ARLINGTON –– Dallas-based communications giant AT&T has snapped up the naming rights to the home of the Dallas Cowboys, which will now be known as AT&T Stadium.
Owner Jerry Jones announced the deal alongside AT&T representatives and Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck Thursday afternoon from Cowbo… –– ahem –– AT&T Stadium. The deal, which has been rumored since Monday, will also bring communication upgrades to the sports venue that officials promise will boost cellular connectivity on its grounds.
“AT&T is an iconic American leader that has guided the path of communication in the world for more than 100 years,” Jones said in a prepared statement. “Our stadium has always been about providing fans with an unsurpassed experience in the area of technology. With AT&T, we are growing our relationship with one of the world’s strongest and most innovative companies to ultimately provide fans with the latest cutting-edge technology for many years to come.”
AT&T says it's doubled the capacity of the company's 4G LTE network inside the stadium, the plazas and the parking lots. Wi-Fi access will "nearly double" in the same areas by the time the season begins. The company also says it will "enhance" the Cowboys' official mobile app "with maps and way finding to improve the overall fan experience on game days."
The 80,000 capacity stadium opened in 2009 and has been without a corporate sponsor since. A News 8 story from then credited the sagging economy with scaring off potential interested companies –– including AT&T –– from meeting Jones' desired price tag.
In that time, it's hosted Super Bowl XLV, the 2010 NBA All Star Game, the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Regionals as well as the annual Cotton Bowl Classic.
AT&T will have its name attached to the NCAA Men's Final Four next year and the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship Game in 2015.
"We are a global company. We have a global reach, but our home is Dallas so we are very proud to be a bigger part of a relationship with the Dallas Cowboys." said Cathy Coughlin, Senior Executive Vice President and Global Marketing Officer for AT&T.
Jones declined to release specifics of the deal during the press conference, saying only, "the fit is not all about the dollars." ESPN's Todd Archer, citing "sources", reported that the deal is for between $17 million and $19 million a year.
The deal will help the franchise pay down some of the $600 million in debt created to build the sports showpiece.
"I have often though that the thing that I didn’t ever want to get caught short on was having our financial house in order," Jones said. “And one of the reasons this stadium is here, there's no joy in Mudville, there's no being able to compete or have your mind on the game if you're sitting around worrying about the financials."
He called the deal a highlight in his time as owner and said he's been working to secure a naming rights agreement since the stadium was in its planning stages.
However much the deal is worth, Mayor Cluck told reporters the city of Arlington will receive 5 percent of revenue from the naming rights.
"All that money will go to paying off the debt more rapidly than we would normally," he said.