It used to be that football stadium had iconic names that fit the teams that played there. Candlestick Park, Texas Stadium and The Meadowlands were all names that football fans used with love. However, over the years naming rights went to whichever corporation dished out the most money. Candlestick Park became 3Com Park, the Meadowlands became MetLife Stadium and the Dallas Cowboys stadium is now known as AT&T Stadium.
Jerry Jones sold his team's stadium naming rights to AT&T for an estimated $18 million a year and then explained that it was the perfect company to partner with because they are one of the greatest icons in America and the Cowboys are America's Team.
One good thing about the new Dallas Cowboys stadium name is that the city of Arlington gets $500,000 a year from the partnership to help pay off the debt from the city's part of building the stadium.
While Jones said earlier this spring that he was not in a hurry to sell the Dallas Cowboys stadium rights, the deal seemed to be the perfect match in his mind. The stadium cost $1.2 billion to build and Arlington tax payers dished out $325 million to help finance it.
While this makes good business sense for both the Dallas Cowboys and the city of Arlington, it is still something some fans still can't get behind. While the name is AT&T Stadium, and television broadcasters will pimp the name out over and over during the games, fans will continue to call it Dallas Cowboys stadium, as many still call MetLife Stadium the Meadowlands. It has been 18 years since the San Francisco 49ers sold their name and people still call it Candlestick Park.
Even colleges are selling their naming rights now. Florida Atlantic University tried to sell naming rights to the GEO Group, but caused a rebellion with the students. The fact that the GEO Group is a private prison corporation made it even more puzzling.
Others include Sun Life Stadium, which replaced the name Joe Robbie Stadium, meaning a corporation name replaced that of the original Miami Dolphins owner. One holdout is the Cincinnati Bengals, who played in Cinergy Field for three years before moving to their new stadium, which they named Paul Brown Stadium, after their team founder.
The range of stadium naming rights varies, as the Jacksonville Jaguars only received $620,000 a year from Alltel Corp. and the Houston Texans get $10 million a year from Reliant Energy.
While the benefit of the naming for the teams is evident, it is not clear how much it benefits the business. One example is Pro Player Park, who three years after buying the naming rights to the Miami Dolphins stadium filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, going completely out of business in 2001.
There is little chance that AT&T will go out of business, but how slapping their name on the Dallas Cowboys stadium is worth $18 million is the big question. In this case, it just might be the phone company buying bragging rights. In the meantime, another standout sports team sells out.