Audi will have its name on the new home of Major League Soccer’s D.C. United, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Introducing: Audi Field.
The agreement, which will run for at least a decade, will be one of the three richest naming-rights deals in MLS, according to an unnamed source who is familiar with the contract. This puts it alongside Banc of California’s 15-year agreement with Los Angeles Football Club at an average of $6.6 million per year, and Bank of Montreal’s deal with Toronto FC. However, the financial terms of the Audi deal were not disclosed.
Volkswagen, the parent company of Audi, has been dramatically cutting its spending on sports sponsorships in the wake of its costly diesel-emissions cheating scandal. However, Audi is already a sponsor of Major League Soccer, and paying for Audi Field suggests that the company will continue to put money into marketing that furthers its North American expansion.
Audi has been very successful lately in the United States, with sales increasing last year by 4 percent to 210,213 vehicles. In January, Audi posted its 73rd consecutive record month of volume.
Currently, D.C. United plays at RFK Stadium in southeast D.C., approximately 25 miles east of the Audi of American headquarters in Herndon, Virginia. D.C. United is currently in the middle of a $530 million development project that includes building the new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2018. Audi will display its name and iconic four-ring logo throughout the 20,000-capacity venue, including the roofs over seating sections on the east and west sides.
“They are really excited about being part of the transformation of the world’s sport in the nation’s capital,” said Mike Schoenbrun, United’s chief revenue officer. “Most important to us was a partner that believed in the sport. We wanted a brand that would make a splash and turn people’s heads.”
According to the team’s president of business operations, Audi and United spoke on and off for a year and engaged in formal talks during all-star game festivities last summer in San Jose. Other names under consideration were Audi Park, Audi Arena and Audi Stadium
As is the case in other sports, corporate naming rights are prevalent in soccer circles. The exceptions in MLS are RFK Stadium, Yankee Stadium (home of Yankees partner New York City FC) and BC Place in Vancouver. Toyota sponsors MLS venues in Chicago and Dallas, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium will open this summer for MLS newcomer Atlanta United and the NFL’s Falcons.
Audi has “fully embraced the culture of soccer, especially in MLS,” United managing general partner Jason Levien said. “We couldn’t think of a better partner to name our stadium and we look forward to forging extraordinary memories for years to come at Audi Field.”