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MLS All-Star Game 2023 Spotlights the Sponsorship Scene in America’s Capital City

July 19, 2023

Major League Soccer’s top talents faced off against Premier League club Arsenal in last night’s MLS All-Star Game 2023—presented by Target since 2017—held at Audi Field in Washington DC. The high-profile English squad handily beat the stateside standouts 5-0, marking Arsenal’s second appearance—and victory—in the matchup, having won its first showing 2-1 in 2016.

In homage to the transatlantic contest’s host city, let’s take a closer look at the sponsorship market in our nation’s capital.

GEICO is the market’s most active brand with 16 deals, including partnerships with the Washington Capitals, Commanders, Nationals, and Wizards. Coca-Cola trails the insurance giant with 13 sponsorships, followed by Capital One with 12—naming rights to the Washington Capitals' home ice, the Capital One Arena, among them. Notably, Steamfitters 602, a local union with more than 5,000 members, is the only brand that sponsors all five of the city’s major pro sports franchises.

With nearly 160 partnerships, the Washington Capitals are the most active property in the DC market. Capital Pride Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community, takes second place with more than 145 sponsorship deals. At the Washington Pride Parade in June, the organization partnered with the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority and the Washington Commanders, which both had floats at the event. The Washington Wizards land in third with over 140 deals. One memorable recent activation saw Flagship Car Wash do a game time “parachute drop,” which were attached to gifts for fans in attendance.  

Open opportunities abound in the Capital City. None of DC’s five major pro sports teams have a sponsor in the Construction & Architecture Firms category—presenting a prime opportunity for local brands like McKenzie Contracting to explore an inaugural major pro sports partnership. Red Bull also seems like another obvious contender, while the energy drink titan partners with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Colorado Rockies, no energy drink brand currently sponsors a major pro sports team in Washington. The Consumer Products category is another conspicuous absence, making Apple–which sponsors teams elsewhere in the US–a likely candidate to fill the void in DC.

The Wizards dominate the list of Washington’s rights holders on social media, with over 8.4M followers and 1.2M in total branded engagement. In the second spot with 5.1M followers, the Commanders also boast the most engaging post among DC properties: its Instagram post with the Maryland Lottery, which engaged 69K users. The Washington Capitals round out the top three, with 2.9M followers and total branded engagement of 1.5M.

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