Ripken Baseball said Monday it has reached an agreement to grant naming rights for Ripken Stadium — home of the minor-league Aberdeen IronBirds — to Leidos, a large national security contractor.
The family name of Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. is not disappearing from the 13-year-old venue, which will be called "Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium."
"We'll never abandon the brand," said Tim Lewis, president of Ripken Baseball. "It's such a powerful, iconic brand, and it's what attracts so many of our corporate and strategic partners. This partnership is with an organization that has consistent values."
Terms of the multiyear partnership were not disclosed. The club said it was planning to formally announce the agreement on Tuesday. The deal is expected to be approved by Minor League Baseball and to be in place when the IronBirds open the season June 19.
Leidos, a national security, health and engineering company based in Reston, Va., employs more than 20,000 people around the world with sales topping $5 billion in its last fiscal year. It has a significant presence in Aberdeen, supporting the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Leidos already sponsors Major League Soccer's D.C. United. The company name appears prominently on players' jerseys.
The new deal gives Leidos "unlimited opportunities to activate," said Melissa Koskovich, a Leidos senior vice president.
"We'll have stadium signage facing I-95. We're going to sponsor Military Appreciation Night, we'll have a club-level suite where we can bring guests from different charities," she said. "Cal Ripken himself is a brand — a Hall of Famer and stand-up guy. The organization was good for us because of our values."
The IronBirds are the Orioles' Class A New York-Penn League short-season affiliate. "Birdland begins in Aberdeen" is a team promotional slogan.
"We support numerous customers in the Aberdeen Proving Ground area and many of our employees live there as well," Leidos CEO Roger Krone said in a prepared statement. "We have found sports engagements like this, and our partnership with MLS team D.C. United, to be an effective way to brand our company, while at the same time enabling us to engage with employees and the local community.
The 6,300-seat stadium is owned by the city of Aberdeen and maintained by Ripken Baseball, which represents the business interests of Cal Ripken and his brother Bill,
The stadium, which also hosts games featuring high school and college players, has been updated in the past few years. There is a now a club-level bar and the outfield wall has been painted Orioles orange.
Proceeds from the naming-rights deal will help Ripken Baseball "invest back into the stadium," which needs "a couple million dollars' worth of work," Lewis said.
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He said railings need repair, the club level needs better insulation to withstand cold weather and "a new scoreboard will be needed in the next several years."
The stadium will host the 2015 New-York Penn League All-Star Game in August.
Bank of America was a previous naming-rights partner. The sponsor and Ripken Baseball parted ways amicably after the deal expired about six years ago.
Last year, Ripken Baseball announced that it was seeking a new naming-rights sponsor.
It has a number of other sponsors, including Under Armour, which has naming rights for properties associated with youth baseball.