Monumental Sports announced that they have partnered with Etihad Airways, an airline carrier based in the United Arab Emirates earlier this week. Going forward, Etihad will be known as the official airline partner of the Wizards, Capitals, Mystics, and Verizon Center. Ted Leonsis also blogged about it on Tuesday which includes a video interview with Patrick Pierce, Etihad's Vice President of Sponsorship. Pierce, as far as I know, doesn't appear to be related to Paul.
Etihad is known for its sports sponsorships, where the company is the jersey sponsor for the Manchester City Football Club and Major League Soccer's New York City FC, which the airline carrier holds majority ownership in. In fact, the company is the official airline carrier of the MLS. In addition, Etihad also is the sponsor for sports organizations in India, Australia, and on its home turf in the United Arab Emirates.
In the press release, Etihad appeared to take a particular interest in the Mystics because they would be the first women's sports team the company has ever sponsored. Here's what Monumental Sports vice chairman Raul Fernandez said about it:
The addition of the Washington Mystics to the Etihad Airways sponsorship portfolio bolsters the airline’s commitment to promoting women’s sport, fitness, health and well-being, which has been popular among its more than 8,200 female employees across 144 different nationalities.
There's not much to speculate about from one quote of course. But here's something to note -- and perhaps speculate about when it comes to the Mystics.
The Mystics had a jersey sponsorship with Inova Health Systems from 2011 to 2014, but Inova decided not to renew the sponsorship for the 2015 season. After the sponsorship wasn't renewed, Monumental Sports photoshopped the company logo off most new social media pictures and marketing materials involving the Mystics.
Because WNBA jersey sponsorships do provide considerable revenue, generally around $1 million annually, it's safe to assume that Monumental Sports would likely look for a new sponsorship partner. So on the surface, perhaps Etihad could be that sponsor in the near future. But for now, the WNBA season is coming up in less than a month, so I wouldn't hold my hopes up on seeing Bria Hartley wearing an Etihad jersey this summer while she's crossing over some hapless defender.
The sponsorship news also makes me wonder what this means for the Wizards beyond a simple advertising sponsorship. Monumental Sports is making a big deal out of this.
I believe it's only a matter of time until NBA teams are wearing company-sponsored uniforms and slight modifications to all NBA team jerseys this past season weren't accidental. Could Etihad be the Wizards' jersey sponsor when that day inevitably comes? Sound off in the comments below.