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Cowboys Stadium will “now be known as AT&T Stadium under a multimillion-dollar naming-rights deal,” according to a front-page piece by Schrock & Ahles of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones on Thursday "declined to reveal the financial details, including how many years the contract covers." He said, "This is not the most in dollars there has been for naming rights, but this is the best naming-rights relationship. This was clearly the right company for us to move forward with." Baylor Univ. Hankamer School of Business Sports & Entertainment Marketing Exec Dir Kirk Wakefield estimated that the deal is worth up to $18M a year. He indicated that since AT&T was "already an anchor sponsor at the stadium and was probably paying" the team $6-12M a year, the "total naming-rights agreement could be worth" $12-18M a year. AT&T Global Marketing Officer Cathy Coughlin said that the company as part of the deal has "doubled its 4G LTE network capacity to benefit its customers inside the stadium, in the plazas and in the parking lots -- and is working to nearly double the Wi-Fi capacity for all mobile technology users at the stadium." She added that AT&T also is "enhancing the Cowboys’ mobile app with maps and wayfinding information to improve the fan experience on game days." Schrock & Ahles report the city of Arlington, which owns the stadium, will "receive up to $500,000 a year from the deal." Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said that the money will be "used to pay down the city’s portion of the stadium debt more rapidly." After the bonds are repaid, the city will "use naming-rights revenue in any way it chooses" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 7/26). The name change "takes effect immediately, and numerous signs outside and inside the stadium will be changed to reflect the name" of AT&T (ESPNDALLAS.com, 7/25).
GEEK SQUAD: Business experts said that Jones and the Cowboys, with the help of AT&T's "wireless technology, are pioneering a new source of revenue for big-time sports." Cowboys COO & Exec VP Stephen Jones said, "This is about smartphones, pads, computers and technology. We have targeted them from the get-go. This was not just about settling for a naming rights deal. … This is a bigger deal.” In Dallas, Jacobson, Robinson-Jacobs & Moore in a front-page piece note the Cowboys and AT&T will "probably share in revenue yielded by technology that has yet to be developed." AT&T said that some of the new "interactive enhancements will be available to only AT&T customers" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/26). The MORNING NEWS' David Moore notes the Cowboys "benefit from AT&T’s expertise and ability to implement new technology," and team officials "believe this will keep the stadium and the team on the cutting edge." Stephen Jones said, “In addition to the product on the field, this will provide the best atmosphere in all of sports. That’s one of the main reasons we pushed so hard. This is more than just a name on a building and the finances to go with it. This is about connectivity and technology" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/26).
THE NAME GAME: FOX SPORTS SOUTHWEST's Keith Whitmire wrote by removing "Cowboys" from the name, the team will "draw criticism from fans for 'selling out' for sponsorship dollars." The club has "garnered untold exposure by having its own name on the stadium, which is regarded as one of the top sports facilities in the world." AT&T may "not get the full value for its money, since many fans and pundits have nicknamed the stadium 'Jerry World' and 'The Deathstar' and will likely continue to call it by those monikers" (FOXSPORTSSOUTHWEST.com, 7/25). ESPN DALLAS' Todd Archer wrote whatever AT&T "paid the Cowboys for the naming rights, it will be significant and obviously a lot better than the $0 they received in the stadium's first four years." But when "Cowboys Stadium" was said, people "knew what it was, if not necessarily where it was." With AT&T Stadium, will "everybody immediately know what and where it is? Maybe" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 7/25). YAHOO SPORTS' Frank Schwab wrote, "We all know no matter what they name it, everyone's still going to call it by its real name -- Jerry World" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/25). The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said, "All naming rights are wasteful because it's like lighting matches to million dollar bills" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/25).
SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE: FOX SPORTS SOUTHWEST's Matt Mosley wrote Jerry Jones was "only tied to 'Cowboys Stadium' until he could find a prominent company to throw millions at him." He never "pretended 'Cowboys Stadium' was anything but a placeholder when it came to naming rights." Mosley: "I think he was a little embarrassed that it took him so long to find the right partner/amount of money, but his patience was likely rewarded" (FOXSPORTSSOUTHWEST.com, 7/25).
Several "key city lawmakers" Thursday endorsed the $300M DC United stadium plan announced earlier in the day by the team and DC Mayor Vincent Gray, but "significant financial and political hurdles remain," according to Mike DeBonis of the WASHINGTON POST. The city in the deal "agrees to acquire and clear the land" for the 20,000-seat stadium, costing an estimated $140-150M, and "leasing it to the team for $1 a year over the 'useful life' of the facility." United in the deal "agrees to build the stadium and assume all other costs of the project at a price not set out in the term sheet; the team has said it expects to spend $150 million." Payment of taxes and fees to the city is "subject to a complex revenue sharing agreement that would be finalized in a later contract" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/26). In DC, Thomas Floyd reports Gray "praised the work" of United Managing Partner Jason Levien. Gray said the agreement is a "very creative plan." However, the project "still requires D.C. Council approval." Gray noted that the deal is "different than the entirely city-financed Nationals Park project, which went well over budget." Gray: "If the stadium costs more at the end of the day, that will be on D.C. United’s nickel -- not the taxpayers of the city." Floyd notes if the land acquisition and council approval "aren’t finalized by Jan. 1, United can back out" of the deal. United are "aiming to begin play in the stadium in 2016, with Levien calling 2017 an 'outer end' possibility." Pending council approval and site preparation, construction is "projected to take 18 months" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/26).
LEVIEN CONFIDENT IN TEAM'S CHANCES: In DC, Steven Goff noted "formidable obstacles remain" before the deal is final, including the "city council’s blessing, land acquisition and other issues." But Levien said, "My level of confidence is high." He added the project "makes a lot of sense. It’s a win-win-win." The team and city "envision concerts, college football, soccer and lacrosse games, high school football, and international soccer matches" being held at the new stadium (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/25). In K.C., Tod Palmer writes the new stadium will represent a "long-sought and much-needed transition from playing in rundown RFK Stadium." MLS Commissioner Don Garber said of the deal, "That’s something the club has been working on for really 20 years" (K.C. STAR, 7/26).
The Canucks within a year hope to complete the "first of three residential/office towers" that would allow the team to "expand their concourse areas at the southwest end” of Rogers Arena, according to Brad Ziemer of the VANCOUVER SUN. The first five floors of what is tentatively called the West Tower "will connect” with the arena. The first and third floors will “open up to the main and upper bowl concourses at Rogers Arena.” It will provide the Canucks with “more concession opportunities and give their fans more room to move.” The tower also will allow the Canucks to “address another pressing problem with Rogers Arena: a lack of washrooms.” Current bathroom capacity “will be expanded by about 25 per cent.” Canuck Sports & Entertainment COO Victor de Bonis is “particularly excited about plans for the fourth floor of the arena and tower, which call for what he describes as a ‘cutting edge sports bar concept.’” Ziemer reports there are three parts to that concept. The first will be a “large sports bar, where fans without tickets will be able to hang out before, during and after games.” It also will “likely be open year-round on non game-days.” There will be “two other ‘pay’ components to that bar area, including Loge Boxes that seat four to six people and a larger area similar to the present Best Buy Club.” The fifth floor will “allow creation of a party suite that will accommodate large groups.” The goal is to have “all these changes made in just over a year” (VANCOUVER SUN, 7/26).
Concerns are "growing over a rapidly dwindling supply of prime tailgating spots" around the Vikings' new downtown Minneapolis stadium, and the team has asked city officials to "consider expanding the area for pre- and postgame festivities," according to a front-page piece by Richard Meryhew of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The request "comes in response to feedback from some disgruntled season-ticket holders over a $400 million office, retail and housing development near the stadium that will gobble up more than 800 premium tailgating spaces." Vikings officials surveyed "nearly 22,000 single-game or season-ticket holders on the issue this spring." Nearly two-thirds of the "roughly 3,000 fans who responded said it was 'very important' to be able to pull out the coolers and the grills and continue the tailgating tradition at the new stadium." However, more than half said that they "wanted to be within walking distance of the stadium and preferred not to park and tailgate at lots farther away or use a shuttle service to get to and from the game." Based on the survey, the Vikings "estimate that about 840 fans host weekly tailgating parties, with an average of 10 guests per vehicle or space." Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development Agency Deputy Dir Chuck Lutz said that the city and Vikings "will explore the possibility of using other surface parking lots close to the Metrodome for tailgating." Other options discussed at Thursday’s committee meeting "included blocking off some downtown streets on gamedays to allow for tailgating" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/26). Meanwhile, the Vikings' stadium development "inched forward Thursday" when the Stadium Implementation Committee "formally approved the project’s design" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/26).