The Washington Times - September 17, 2008, 11:32AM

I talked with Nationals President Stan Kasten for a few minutes before last night’s game. We covered a number of topics, and here are a couple noteworthy things that came out of the conversation:

- I asked Stan about the status of a naming rights deal, and he hedged a bit on whether the team would land a over-arcing sponsor for Nationals Park at all.


“We’re looking at a number of different things,” he said, stopping me in mid-sentence. “There’s no rush.”

He did say that they have left open several key pieces of real estate at the stadium that could land a big sponsorship. The Red Loft Bar and Red Porch Restaurant are two prime places that were held back from being sold. Those spots would obviously be desirable locations for whoever would buy the stadium naming rights, but they could also fetch a hefty price if sold on their own.

Kasten said the team has secured about 130 sponsor relationships this year, and that he was satisfied with that total given that the team had no sponsors carry over from RFK.

- Kasten also said that it’s possible that Centerplate may not return for next season. The concession provider is having financial problems and is actively seeking to be acquired or it could go bankrupt. (Centerplate gets nearly 20 percent of its revenue from Yankee Stadium, but its contract there runs out after 2008 and the Yankees are launching their own catering business at the new ballpark next year.)

If the company is sold, the Nationals would have the ability to make a switch. A change would give the Nationals their third concession provider in as many years.

It does not help, of course, that Centerplate’s performance has not been stellar this year, with complaints of long lines, slow service and cold hot dogs.

“Service was a problem early in the year because there were so many new people,” Kasten said. “It got better as the year went on but it’s not yet where we need it or must have it.”

- Tim Lemke