By Bonnie Strauss
Caesars Entertainment Corp. is entering a first-of-its-kind sponsorship deal with D.C. United.
The strategic partnership could pave the way for a sportsbook to be opened at Audi Field stadium in Washington.
As part of the agreement, not only will D.C. United’s uniforms bear the Caesars logo on the right sleeve for both home and away matches starting in 2020, but Caesars is also looking into opening bars or entertainment venues around Audi Field and the neighborhood of Buzzard Point in Southeast Washington.
This is the first time a casino company will have its logo on an MLS jersey, according to a news release. The only other MLS sleeve branding deal is the Atlanta United’s partnership with Piedmont Healthcare, which was announced this month.
“In an effort to support the dream of turning Audi Field into a year-round hub of entertainment in the Buzzard Point community of Washington D.C., multiple entertainment and bar/restaurant concepts are being considered, including Caesars Entertainment hosting events in the stadium itself,” the team’s news release said.
The partnership also includes the standard fare, game-day activations like promotional giveaways at games, special match moments, LED signage at Audi Field and the availability of suites during home games and stadium events. There are multiple bar, restaurant and entertainment concepts being considered, including stadium events hosted by Caesars.
Caesars has announced other sports-related partners in recent months, including the NFL and ESPN. “Caesars Entertainment has been a world-wide leader in entertainment for many years, but now, including this new landmark partnership with D.C. United, we have quickly become a leader in the world of sports,” said Chris Holdren, Chief Marketing Officer for Caesars Entertainment. “We are excited to share our sports, hospitality and entertainment expertise with D.C. United fans and Audi Field guests.”
Sports betting was not mentioned explicitly in the team’s news release, but D.C. United is likely positioning itself for the new frontier of sports gambling in the District, the Washington Times reports. D.C. Council voted to legalize sports gambling in December 2018, and the D.C. Lottery is scheduled to launch its sports betting app in March.
Last November, reports said D.C. United and Caesars were “deep in negotiations” about opening a sportsbook at the relatively new soccer stadium as early as the spring, in time for the majority of the 2020 Major League Soccer season. The team first would need to apply for a license to operate a sportsbook from the city.
United opens its season Feb. 29 at home against the Colorado Rapids, although it is not likely the sportsbook would be up and running by then.