- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Directions to RFK:Driving | Metro

A deal to rename the RFK Stadium field with a military theme will be announced today, hours before the first pitch of the Washington Nationals’ home opener.

Officials for the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission declined to disclose the specifics of the emerging pact last night, but said frenetic negotiations conducted throughout yesterday with National Guard and Pentagon officials are approaching a successful conclusion.

“It’s going to get done. The structure [of the deal] is a bit more complex now, but I feel very good about this,” said Mark Tuohey, commission chairman.

District officials said the commission has workers on standby ready to hang a banner with the new field name at a moment’s notice. The stadium will continue to bear the name of Robert F. Kennedy, but the timing of the pact was under significant pressure as the commercial value of the naming rights diminishes after tonight’s historic home opener.

To that end, negotiations between Pentagon officials and the commission extended until 3:30 a.m. Tuesday night, resumed four hours later and lasted all day yesterday. Today’s announcement of the sponsorship accord will arrive three days later than first expected.

The original sponsorship deal to create National Guard Field at RFK Stadium was for three years and $6.62million. Much of the proceeds from the deal, pursued with approval of the Kennedy family, are pegged for District youth and recreation facilities, with a portion of the proceeds also going to the Greater Washington Sports Alliance.

The deal has grown significantly more complicated than its original form, however, as the National Guard and Sen. John Warner, Virginia Republican, believed the first pact was not an efficient use of taxpayer funds to boost flagging enlistment to the service.

The Nationals were to receive about a third of the funds in the first deal through the purchase of supplementary stadium advertising, and remain involved in talks.

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