URIEL J. GARCIA
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Dallas Cowboys announced a multi-year, multimillion-dollar branding deal Thursday that will change the name of Cowboys Stadium to AT&T Stadium.
Team owner Jerry Jones said he wants his $1.2 billion showplace to be a building "more familiar than the White House."
The name change for the $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium takes effect immediately, and numerous signs outside and inside the stadium will be changed to reflect the name of the telecommunications giant based in nearby Dallas.
Team officials declined to reveal terms of the deal, including cost and how many years are included. Marc Ganis, a sports consultant with SportsCorp Ltd. in Chicago, estimated the deal could be worth as much as $20 million annually for 20 to 30 years, or from $400 million to $600 million.
Jones acknowledged the pact with AT&T is not "the most in dollars that there has been for naming rights." He didn't refer to any other NFL team but one of the richest naming rights deal happened in New York with the Giants and Jets signing a $400 million, 25-year deal with MetLife Insurance. Also, the San Francisco 49ers in May announced a 20-year naming-rights agreement with Levi Strauss and Co. worth $220 million.
Jones simply hopes the telecom brand will lead to even more marquee events at the stadium, well known for its huge twin high-definition TV screens over the field, retractable roof, and ground-to-ceiling glass doors behind both end zones that open and shut almost like sliding patio doors. The stadium opened in 2009 and has already hosted a Super Bowl. It is the site of the 2014 NCAA men's Final Four and, in 2015, the first college football title game under the new playoff format.
"(It) is very important ... that AT&T stadium be where the big events happen, where exciting things happen. And it's beyond Cowboys games," Jones said.
Still, the Cowboys open the season Sept. 8 at home against the New York Giants and fans have become accustomed to calling the venue Cowboys Stadium since the team left behind Texas Stadium in Irving. AT&T executive Cathy Coughlin said the telecom company believes the name change won't have a negative effect on fans.
"Our objective is to integrate (the new name) seamlessly as if it had been there since the beginning," she said. "We're very proud to have our name on the stadium."
Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, whose city is home to the complex, said the city will receive 5 percent of the revenue from the naming rights annually, but couldn't give specific numbers. He said the revenue will help Arlington to pay off in 15 years the debt incurred to help build the stadium four years ago. Officials originally planned a 30-year debt package.
"We have two great companies right in the middle of our city who are doing wonderful things for our city, why wouldn't we want to have that partnership?" Cluck said. "This is a good deal for us."
The team says the deal includes access to AT&T mobile technology. The arrangement will double the stadium's Wi-Fi network for faster mobile access and expand the options provided by the Cowboys' mobile app. Both sides promise other mobile opportunities in the future.
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