Commanders lose naming-rights partner FedEx two years before deal expired

The Washington Commanders are in search of a new naming-rights partner for their stadium after FedEx opted out of its agreement two years early.

When FedEx signed its $205 million agreement to have its name on FedEx Field in 1999, there was an opt-out provision in the deal that the shipping magnate exercised once the Commanders were sold to Josh Harris' group, according to the Washington Post.

Fred Smith, FedEx's founder, was one of three former minority owners (2003-2021) of the Commanders.

While FedEx will no longer appear on the stadium, its sponsorship deal with the NFL and partnership with Washington are still active.

The Commanders stand to lose about $15 million in revenue with the move and now have no name for their venue, at this time.

“We thank FedEx Corporation for its longstanding naming rights sponsorship and their work with our team and community and look forward to their continued partnership within the Commanders family,” the team said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We have already started the process of identifying our next stadium naming rights partner — a partner who will play a crucial role in ushering in the next era of not only Commanders football, but also a robust slate of top live events and concerts."

“FedEx is a longtime sponsor of multiple sports leagues, properties, and teams,” the company wrote in a statement to The Post. “We continuously review our marketing programs to ensure our investments are aligned with our evolving business objectives. As part of this review, we have decided to not continue as the naming rights sponsor of FedEx Field as we focus on our broader NFL sponsorship and opportunities that reflect our global footprint.”

FILE -FedEx Field is seen in this general view prior to an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Football Team, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in Landover, Md. A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press the Washington Commanders have bought land in Virginia for what could be a potential site of the NFL team’s next stadium. The 200 acres of land purchased for approximately $100 million is in Woodbridge roughly 25 miles outside the District of Columbia. The Commanders’ lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, expires in 2027. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally, File)
The Washington Commanders are in search of a new naming-rights partner after FedEx pulled out of its agreement two years early. The Commanders’ lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, expires in 2027. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally, File)

There are only two other teams in the NFL that don't have a naming-rights deal for their stadiums — the Green Bay Packers' Lambeau Field and the Chicago Bears' Soldier Field.

Even though Washington was caught flat footed by the move, the team is on the hunt for a new naming-rights partner. The Post reported that the team has hired Elevate to remedy the situation. The consulting firm's CEO is Al Guido, who has served as the San Francisco 49ers's president since 2016, and someone new general manager Adam Peters would know very well from their time working together.

The thought behind bringing in Elevate is that the company just negotiated a deal with Nissan to be the naming-rights partner of the Tennessee Titans' current stadium, and also the new one which will open in 2027.

Before Harris bought the team from former owner Dan Snyder, the Commanders found themselves without any of the localities — D.C., Maryland or Virginia — willing to discuss the new stadium. Washington will continue to play its games in Landover, Md., until September 2027, due to contractual obligation, and as the leadership continues to try to solidify its plans for a new home.

“They want the right partner, and they want a partner for the long haul,” Guido told the Post. “That could mean that the partner continues on in the new building as a naming rights partner. It could mean that the partner continues on in a what we call a founding level [as an exclusive partner] in the new building. But I do think that … when deals like this occur, a partner of this magnitude coming online is going to be very interested in continuing on.”