Audi will have its name on the new home of Major League Soccer’s D.C. United.
The agreement, which runs at least a decade, will be one of the three richest naming-rights deals in MLS, according to a person familiar with the contract, who requested anonymity because neither party disclosed financial terms. That puts it alongside Banc of California’s 15-year agreement with Los Angeles Football Club at an average of $6.6 million a year, and Bank of Montreal’s deal with Toronto FC.
Volkswagen AG, the parent company of Audi, has cut its spending on sports sponsorships considerably in the wake of its costly diesel-emissions cheating scandal. Audi is already a sponsor of Major League Soccer, and paying for Audi Field in D.C. suggests the company will keep putting money into marketing that furthers its North American expansion.
Audi has been on a hot streak in the U.S. Sales last year rose 4 percent to 210,213 vehicles. In January, posted its 73rd consecutive record month of volume.
D.C. United currently plays at RFK Stadium in southeast D.C., about 25 miles east of the Audi of America headquarters in Herndon, Virginia.
Led by managing partner Jason Levien and Erick Thohir since 2012, D.C. United is in the middle of a $350 million development project that includes the new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2018. Thohir also has a controlling stake in Italy’s Inter Milan. Levien is part-owner of Swansea City, a Welsh team in the English Premier League.
“Audi has transcended the automobile industry and fully embraced the culture of soccer, especially in MLS,” Levien said.
D.C. United was founded in 1996 and was once owned by George Soros. The club has won four championships, second in the league behind the Los Angeles Galaxy. The team has made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.
Audi Germany has sponsored Bayern Munich since 2002.