Newly named Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C. (Photo Credit: Monumental Sports and Entertainment)
Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE) has called its new agreement with Capital One to name what was previously known as Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Capital One Arena, a partnership between two home-grown companies.
Effective in early August, the switch to Capital One Arena finishes off a market search for a new naming rights partner for what has been ranked as the eighth-highest grossing arena in the nation with capacity over 15,000.
“Capital One is one of the most influential local businesses in our region over the last two decades, so we couldn’t be more pleased to partner with another homegrown company to create more incredible memories for sports fans, music fans, families and friends all across our region,” said Ted Leonsis, founder, majority owner and CEO of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the venue owners. “Capital One shares our deep commitment to both economic and philanthropic investment in the larger Washington, D.C., community and we look forward to working closely with them.”
While Monumental didn’t disclose terms, local media has reported the agreement is in the range of $100-million over 10 years, which Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group, called “substantial” and places it near the top of any arena in the country and even above some National Football League (NFL) stadiums.
With nine venues hosting both a National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) team, the sponsorship rights become more valuable, he said. Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, which also hosts two teams, pulls in roughly $10- million per year for its rights. “Brooklyn is a major market,” Smallwood said. “D.C. is smaller than New York, so that is a good number.”
Other major arena sponsorship deals include Philips Arena, Atlanta, at $9.2 million when it had both an NBA and NHL team, Smallwood said. The planned Chase Arena, San Francisco, future home of the Golden State Warriors, will reportedly become the most expensive arena title deal in the country, anywhere from $15-million to $17-million per year.
Smallwood said the $3-million per year for 15 years received on the Verizon deal gives Monumental an obvious step up, and he said it comes as no surprise it was a financial institution behind the deal. “Those companies are the most relevant category in naming rights and there is more than meets the eye,” he said. “It is not just the branding, it is the products, services and accounts. I would hope they would leverage every bit of products and services they can muster in the arena. From the brand side, you would want them to get the most bang for their buck and activate as many services as they can for a venue through the partnership.”
Monumental has already announced that a new point-of-sale system will enable the venue to offer Capital One cardholders automated discounts on food, beverage, merchandise and more throughout the arena.
“I think leveraging different things into an experience for any company is important at any level (of sponsorship) and certainly with naming rights, the ability to leverage the two businesses is great,” said David Touhey, president of venues for Monumental. “I think there is certainly potential across a lot of dual business lines. Where things can happen, they are a great partner. We are both local, prominent companies. As things align, it makes sense for both to certainly see more (activations).”
While announcing the new naming rights deal, Monumental also announced—which was simply a matter of timing and not related, Touhey said—a $4-million investment into the 20-year-old downtown arena. “We want to do some updates to stay fresh and stay current,” he said.
As part of the updates, the Mounumental360 program will use data collection from the new point-of-sale system to better understand fans and learn preferences for when they interact with any part of the Monumental franchise.
The home to over 220 concerts, shows and events a year, including the NHL’s Washington Capitals and NBA’s Washington Wizards, Capital One Arena will host Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Guns n’ Roses, Andrea Boccelli, Jay-Z and more in the coming months, along with the A-10 men’s basketball tournament in March 2018 and the East regionals of the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Touhey said the changeover to Capital One Arena is currently happening all at once, expected to fully finish this fall. “Everything is in the works,” he said. “Signs need to be manufactured and things need to be made.”
“As a top local employer and major consumer brand, Capital One has deep roots in Washington, D.C., and we are excited to strengthen our contributions to the sports and entertainment landscape in our own backyard,” said Kleber Santos, president, retail and direct banking, Capital One. “Monumental Sports and Entertainment shares our commitment to strengthening the economic and social well-being of the local community, and we are thrilled to partner with them on Capital One Arena. Our collaboration will be great for the D.C. community, the fans who come to support their teams, the talent and events at the arena, and exceptional for our customers who will benefit from our ability to offer access to unique opportunities and experiences at the arena that money can’t buy.”
In a letter to fans, Leonsis wrote: “When it came to identifying a company to have its name on our arena, I am thrilled that the end result meant deepening our relationship with one of our longstanding partners, Capital One. A diversified bank that’s been integral to our community since 1988, Capital One shares our commitment to economic growth, philanthropy and community here. At MSE, we employ almost 4,000 full-time and part-time employees and vendors.”
Along with the Capital One sponsorship and $40-million investment announcement, MSE has launched the Monumental Sports Network, agreed to a new television rights deal and equity partnership with CSN, welcome NBC Sports Group as an investor into the sports network, invest in eSports’ Team Liquid, kick off seasons for the American Football League’s Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade, and purchase a NBA G League team.