As many may already know, the “Verizon Center” naming rights agreement is coming to an end. What originated in 1997, then under the name ” MCI Center”, and ultimately migrating to “Verizon Center” in 2006, will expire in 2018. According to sources, Verizon has decided not to renew their agreement.
In May of last year, the Sports Business Journal confirmed Verizon would not be renewing its agreement, and that Monumental Sports and Entertainment had begun looking at new partners for naming the facility. “We are in the process of beginning to explore”.
According to the Sports Business Journal article, “among the finalists are Chris Foy’s Impression Sports & Entertainment, Denver; and, intriguingly enough, a pair of ad hoc agencies created specifically for this assignment…. Team Services Principal E.J. Narcise teaming with Brian Corcoran’s Shamrock Sports & Entertainment, and another that has naming-rights veteran Rob Yowell and his Gemini Sports Group joining forces with Scout Sports and Entertainment.
However, if you’ve been to Verizon Center in the last year or so, you’ve seen quite a bit of advertising by another name – “Etihad Airways“.
The business of “Branding” is a very strategic process, one that is planned well in advance of a re-branding launch (contract) date. In many cases, a new branding is rolled out in staged steps, prior to the official (hard) re-branding. Sources say that naming rights for this type of facility in the DC area could be as much as $7-10 million per year. It has been said that the Washington Nationals are currently looking for a naming partner at $10 million per year.
Could this be the new name for the arena? At this point nothing official has been announced. This could be a straight-forward, major advertising campaign by Etihad Airways. However, in January 2015, Etihad Airways and Monumental Sports did announce an agreement, stating Etihad Airlines was now “the exclusive airline partner of Monumental Sports and Entertainment.” Then in October of 2015, Etihad Airways and Monumental Sports and Entertainment entered into another agreement, granting Etihad Airways the official naming rights partner for the new VIP club at Verizon Center.
It should be noted that the current saturation of Etihad Airways advertising at Verizon Center does not provide a definite connection to future facility naming rights – just a possible indicator. Either way, it looks like Caps fans will soon need to get use to a new building name.
By Jon Sorensen