WASHINGTON — Nationals Park naming rights are up for sale, Eric Fisher reports for Sports Business Journal.
According to the report, the Nationals have partnered with executive search and advisory firm Korn Ferry, and MLB Advanced Media, to “bring the naming rights for Nationals Park back to market.”
Such a deal would bring in additional cash flow which could, in theory, be used on free agency acquisitions. Mark Lerner, the Nats’ managing principal owner, has openly complained since 2014 about Washington’s growing payroll. Those same complaints have underscored the club’s ongoing legal battle with MASN over fair TV rights compensation.
“Without this added income, the Nationals are handicapped in their ability to invest in efforts to improve the team,” Nats principal owner Ed Cohen argued in an affidavit obtained by The Washington Post in January. “For instance, without this added and steady income, the Nationals cannot bring full economic confidence to investments in multi-year player contracts to keep up with the fierce competition for top players – especially when such control over finances is in the hands of a neighboring club.”
While Nats Park has existed without a naming rights sponsor since 2008, NL East rivals have struck lucrative deals in recent years which may push the organization into a similar arrangement.
When the New York Mets opened a new stadium, they did so with the helpful funding from Citigroup, who agreed to pay a reported $400 million over 20 years. Citi Field opened in 2009. SunTrust agreed to pay the Atlanta Braves a reported $250 million for the right to name their new stadium — set to open in 2017 — for the next 25 years (a term longer than the age of their current stadium).
If the Nationals found a partner willing to approach either of those figures, it could provide the financial reassurance ownership may be seeking before re-signing a certain generational outfielder to the possibly-north-of-$400-million deal he could command by 2018.