SBD/July 26, 2013/Facilities

Service Call: AT&T, Cowboys Officially Agree On Stadium Naming-Rights Deal

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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).
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