Metro could soon sell the naming rights to stations, offices or entire lines as part of an effort to make more money as bus ridership falls and rail ridership only slowly starts to bounce back.
General Manager Paul Wiedefeld told reporters last week he supports naming rights deals, as do at least a few members of the Metro Board.
“It’s something that the board is wrestling with right now, how far they want to go in that area,” Wiedefeld said.
Metro has had consultants review the pros and cons as well as how much money the agency could bring in. Metro is now considering what types of deals it should move forward with.
“Basically, we’re lining up contractually where we could do that if we could do it, but it’s up to the board eventually to decide whether they want to do that,” Wiedefeld said.
Naming rights deals would be easiest to implement sometime late next year when all maps across the rail system will need to be reprinted and changed out anyway to reflect the completion of the Silver Line to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County.
The naming rights deals could be implemented at any time though depending on how the sales are reflected on maps and whether the advertisers paid for replacement maps in the system.
Selling naming rights to a station as transit systems have done in other parts of the country is a logical step given Metro’s existing advertising sales, Wiedefeld said.
The agency has recently rolled out many more digital ad screens across the system, and plans even more of those screens soon.
“That generates a lot more dollars, so, you know, I think it’s good to always think of ways to do that stuff, but I think there’s a balance, and the same way with the naming rights,” Wiedefeld said.
Metro has considered selling naming rights for several years.
“I think it’s coming back because we’re under tremendous financial stress constantly,” Wiedefeld said.