FedEx, which has naming rights to the stadium in which the Washington Redskins play, made a request Thursday that the team change its nickname.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement obtained by ESPN.
FedEx paid $205 million to the Redskins for naming rights to the stadium in 1998 in a deal that runs through 2025. Frederick Smith, the chairman, CEO and president of FedEx Corp., also owns a minority stake in the Redskins.
Team owner Dan Snyder has been under renewed pressure to change the nickname, with protestors reportedly targeting the team’s sponsors, according to Adweek.
FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo each received letters signed by 87 investment firms and shareholders worth a combined $620 billion asking the companies to sever ties with the team unless it changes its controversial name, Adweek reported Wednesday.
On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store. The other 31 NFL teams were listed and a search for “Redskins” came up with no results. Nike did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment.
In 2014, The Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin asked FedEx shareholders to reconsider the naming rights agreement, but shareholders voted to stick with company officials and continue the business relationship, according to the Memphis Business Journal.
Snyder has been under more pressure in recent weeks to change the name given the social climate following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Native American leaders want Snyder to change the name, which the franchise has used since 1933. In the past, groups protested the name and tried to win in court. Those efforts failed.
The Washington Post reported that Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives, made it clear the nickname needed to be changed if the team wanted to return to the district.
That stance serves as a potential roadblock if the franchise wants to move back to the district when its lease on the land at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, is up after the 2027 season. Washington is looking at sites in the district, Maryland and Virginia.
District officials had made it clear they’d like the franchise to return to the city, where it played until leaving RFK Stadium after the 1996 season. The federal government owns the land, but last year Norton introduced a bill that called for it to be sold to the city at a fair market value.
ESPN’s John Keim and The Associated Press contributed to this report.