Thursday, April 14, 2005

The D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission failed to complete a sponsorship deal to change the name of RFK Stadium yesterday, and it now hopes to complete the pact next week.

The commission wanted to finish the agreement, a three-year, $6.62 million deal with the National Guard, before the Washington Nationals’ home opener last night.

The structure of the completed deal will be different from the original version that called for the creation of National Guard Field at RFK Stadium, as well as a second incarnation that called for the baseball facility to be called Armed Forces Field at RFK Stadium.

The National Guard still will have a significant marketing presence at the stadium, including recruiting kiosks and special events at RFK for new and potential enlistees.

But now under serious discussion is a deal in which the National Guard pays about $6 million for its three-year sponsorship, and the sports commission retains the right to sell the name to another entity.

“We’re continuing to have good, productive discussions with the Pentagon and some other parties, but with the pressure of time [before the Nationals opener], it seemed best to just hold off for now,” said Mark Tuohey, sports commission chairman.

The sports commission did have workers on standby late Wednesday and yesterday ready to hang a temporary banner bearing the new name of the field.

City officials at several points were ready to announce the deal, with District Mayor Anthony A. Williams at one point saying an agreement was done. However, Pentagon officials never gave final approval to the pact.

Much of the proceeds from the RFK sponsorships are targeted to go to District youth and recreation facilities, with a portion also going to the Greater Washington Sports Alliance.

The Nationals also play a role in the talks because the National Guard likely will supplement its deal with the sports commission with additional signage within the stadium, sponsorship space that is controlled by the team.

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