NFL: Houston Texans at Washington Redskins

For the first time since 1999, the Washington Commanders won't be playing at FedEx Field. Well, they'll be playing at FedEx Field, it just won't be called FedEx Field after the company surprisingly decided to pull of out its naming rights deal with the team. 

FedEx agreed to a $205 million naming rights deal with Washington back in 1999 and that was supposed to run through the 2026 season. However, there was a clause in the contract that allowed the company to opt out of the deal if the team ever underwent an ownership change, so FedEx decided to take advantage of that. 

Josh Harris purchased the Commanders from Dan Snyder in a $6.05 billion deal that was officially approved in July, which opened the door for FedEx to drop out of the naming rights deal. According to the Washington Post, the Commanders will now lose out on $15 million that they were expected to receive from FedEx for the naming rights over the next two years. Although FedEx has jumped ship on the stadium name, the company will keep a separate sponsorship that was already in place. 

"We continuously review our marketing programs to ensure our investments are aligned with our evolving business objectives," FedEx said in a statement to The Associated Press. "As part of this review, we have decided to not continue as the naming rights sponsor of FedEx Field as we focus on our broader NFL sponsorship and opportunities that reflect our global footprint."

According to the Post, FedEx's decision to back out of the deal caught the Commanders by "surprise."

The chairman of FedEx, Fred Smith, actually used to be a minority owner of the Commanders. Smith bought a small chunk of the team in 2003 and he held onto it until 2021. By the time he sold his portion of the team, he was in a bitter dispute with Snyder. At one point, Snyder took out a $55 million loan against the team, but he didn't receive the permission from his three minority owners, which drew the ire of Smith and his other two minority owners. Snyder bought out his minority owners in March 2021 and then sold the team two years later. 

The decision by FedEx to end its naming rights deal came at some point before the end of the 2023 season, but it didn't become public until this week. The aging stadium, which opened in 1997, has been one of the worst in the NFL over the past few years with complaints about sewage and lack of hot water

Although the stadium seems to be falling apart, the new ownership group has decided to invest some serious money into the building. The team announced on Tuesday that they will be making roughly $75 million worth of upgrades to the stadium that includes "new premium seating options and suite experiences, improved food and beverage options, and sound system upgrades."

The stadium doesn't have a new name yet, but the Commanders are already working on it. 

"We have already started the process of identifying our next stadium naming rights partner -- a partner who will play a crucial role in ushering in the next era of not only Commanders football but also a robust slate of top live events and concerts," the team said in a statement to the AP.

Although the current stadium is falling apart, the Commanders will almost certainly be getting a new stadium at some point before the decade is over. Congress passed a bill on Wednesday that will hand control of the old RFK Stadium site to Washington DC, which could pave the way for the Commanders to get a stadium deal done in DC. If that doesn't work out, the Commanders could end up with a new stadium in either Maryland or Virginia.

Washington played at RFK Stadium in DC from 1961 thru 1996 before moving to the new Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover, Maryland in 1997. FedEx bought the naming rights to the stadium in 1999 an that's what the building was known as until this week.