"Welcome to AT&T Stadium": Jerry Jones Finally Sells His Stadium's Naming Rights
The name "Cowboys Stadium" is everything the structure itself is not: concise, blandly functional, lacking in imagination, panache and, most notably, a high-dollar corporate sheen.
There was never any chance that it was going to last, despite Jerry Jones' protestations to the contrary. Today, it's officially gone.
In its place: AT&T Stadium, Home of the Dallas Cowboys. (Insert hilarious dropped call/missed signal jokes here).
"I've often been told that this stadium reminds some of a cell phone," Jones said at a press conference today explaining the move.
Jones touted some improvements for fans. The deal brings an expanded in-stadium cell phone network, better Wi-Fi and way-finding apps for smartphones. The big winner here, though, is clearly Jones. He wouldn't put a dollar figure on the deal, other than to say that it's not the largest ever, which still leaves a considerable amount of room for profit.
The real question is why he didn't sell naming rights earlier. Although the finances of this deal weren't disclosed, these deals are absurdly lucrative. It stands to reason that Jones could have started making money right away. That's what Business Insider was getting at in a 2010 piece reporting that the Cowboys' dithering had already cost the team $15 million.
In retrospect, such a critique is laughable. The analyst who made that estimate based it on the assumption that a Cowboys Stadium naming rights deal would bring in $7 to $10 million per year. Since that article was written, multiple deals have been signed that blow that figure out of the water. The New York Jets and Giants are getting $17 million or so on MetLife Stadium, while Citigroup is paying the Mets $20 million for the dubious honor of being associated with their ballpark.
In November, Forbes had a more informed take, quoting a Harvard professor and the author of a book on naming rights:
Jerry Jones would want to associate or affiliate with the highest end co-branding opportunity that streams not only across the stadium, but all other ventures. He is likely waiting for the "deal of the century." If I were in his shoes, I would also likely hold on and wait for just the right time, price and place in order to sell naming rights for Cowboys Stadium. People in sponsorship buy into sizzle and want to be associated with winning teams. The best option is to hold tight.
That's only part of the story. The other is that Jones has a compulsive need to upstage ridiculously adorable baby animals. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy had the scoop:
Jerry Jones has just called a noon press conference, stepping on the @FortWorthZoo announcement naming its own Royal Baby. (Elephant.)— Bud Kennedy (@BudKennedy) July 25, 2013
The zoo is rather chipper about the whole thing.
Her name is Belle.
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