Cowboys Reach Agreement With AT&T to Name NFL Stadium

The Dallas Cowboys and AT&T Inc. reached an agreement to name the National Football League team’s stadium after the U.S.’s largest phone company.

The $1.2 billion stadium, home of the league’s most valuable franchise, will become AT&T Stadium, the team said today in an e-mailed release. AT&T is based in Dallas, 19 miles (31 kilometers) away from the four-year-old stadium in Arlington.

“Dallas is our hometown, and we’re proud to expand our successful relationship with the Cowboys, one of the most visionary sports franchises around,” AT&T Global Marketing Officer Cathy Coughlin said in the release.

AT&T already has its name on two major North American sports venues -- baseball’s San Francisco Giants play in AT&T Park and the National Basketball Association’s San Antonio Spurs play in the AT&T Center. The company’s sports sponsorship portfolio includes a golf tournament on the PGA Tour, a college football bowl game and Major League Soccer.

The agreement also provides AT&T with “substantial” advertising opportunities inside and outside the stadium, the release said. The company and team will work together to improve mobile technology in the building, including expanding its Wi-Fi network.

Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed and AT&T spokesman Brad Burns declined to comment on financial details.

MetLife Deal

MetLife Inc. agreed to a 25-year deal in 2011 to place its name on the home of the NFL’s New York Giants and Jets. A person with knowledge of the agreement said at the time it was valued at $400 million, which at $16 million annually would make it the largest naming-rights deal in league history. The person was granted anonymity because the terms weren’t public. Today, MetLife spokesman Shane Winn said that figure was incorrect but declined to disclose the value of the agreement.

Chuck Costigan, founder of Denver-based Costigan & Associates LLC, a sponsorship and naming-rights firm, said today’s deal probably is worth less than what MetLife paid because Dallas is a smaller television market and the venue holds one NFL team, as opposed to two. The league record for a single-team venue is $11 million a year, which Levi Strauss & Co. agreed to pay to put its name on the San Francisco 49ers’ Santa Clara stadium, which is under construction.

“That’s not to say that a corporate partner that has unique objectives to be reached in that marketplace would not find it to be of a high value,” Costigan said in a telephone interview. “Given the current environment and given how the NFL is perceived, this is definitely one of the more premier properties in play.”

Cowboys Stadium

The building, which can hold more than 100,000 people, has been called Cowboys Stadium since it opened in 2009, replacing Texas Stadium. The new venue, which has a retractable roof, hosted the Super Bowl in 2011, the National Basketball Association All-Star Game in 2010, as well as college and high school football, boxing, soccer and concerts. It will host the men’s college basketball finals next year, as well as the first college football national title game under the new playoff system in 2015.

The stadium’s first regular-season game in 2009 drew 105,121 people, a single-game NFL record. Winners of five Super Bowl titles, the team is worth $2.1 billion, according to Forbes Magazine’s annual valuations, making it the most valuable NFL team, almost double the league average.

“AT&T is an iconic American leader that has guided the path of communication in the world for more than 100 years,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in the release. “With AT&T we are growing our relationship with one of the world’s strongest and most innovative companies.”

AT&T had $127.4 billion in revenue in 2012, making it the largest U.S. phone company, and yesterday posted second-quarter earnings that fell just shy of analyst estimates.

Today’s news comes on the same day that the Giants, Dallas’s rival in the National Football Conference East division, announced Quest Diagnostics Inc. would assume the naming rights on their 20-acre practice facility adjacent to MetLife Stadium.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.