Why the new AT&T Stadium is win-win for everyone

About Kirk Wakefield

Kirk Wakefield is Executive Director of the S3 Program, publisher & editor of the Baylor S3 Report, author of Team Sports Marketing (www.teamsportsmarketing.com), and is the Edwin W. Streetman Professor of Retail Marketing at Baylor University.

Since AT&T and the Dallas Cowboys have been great supporters  of the S3 program since its inception a decade ago, apparently DFW reporters figure I might have some insight into the financial deal between the two on the naming rights. Although I’ve been quoted as saying it’s in the $18-20 million range, that’s purely an educated guess. That guess could be off by millions for all I know.

What I do know is that this deal is a win-win for everyone. Why?

  1. Technology: Setting the standard. AT&T & the Cowboys can set the standard for in-stadium experiences with AT&T’s wifi service and exclusive content. If AT&T provides flawless service with 80,000 fans at NFL games, as well as large crowds at 3rd party events, then they can do it anywhere. AT&T Stadium will be the tech showcase for the NFL, much like AT&T Park is for MLB.
  2. Branding: Image transfer. Brands sponsor teams in part for the image of the team to transfer to the brand. Teams are also careful (or should be) to partner with brands that enhance the team’s image, because image transfer can work both ways (cf., Enron).  In this case, matching leading brands in telecommunications and pro sports makes sense. Both will benefit.
  3. Activation: customer conversion. Utilities such as electricity and telecommunications directly benefit from sponsorships because customers can decide to switch services on the spot. TXU Energy (Dallas Mavs/Stars), Reliant Energy (Houston Texans), and Amigo Energy (Houston Dynamo jersey sponsor for 3 years) all benefit from the ability to activate the brand in-venue and other media communications to get customers to switch. Same goes for the wireless category. What’s more, my research shows passionate fans are unlikely to switch from the sponsor to a competitor. They stick with the sponsoring brand.
  4. Partnership: compatibility. The people who work in sponsorships at the Cowboys & AT&T are very smart people. They are professionals who know how to reach corporate objectives through sponsorships. Both parties are committed to excellence in the things they can control. Both know they can count on the other to fulfill the intent of the agreement. In short, they trust each other to seek mutual benefit and to work together.

With all of the press and publicity about this “new” deal, the bottom line is that the Cowboys and AT&T have been partners for a long time. These agreements don’t happen over night, but are based on years of knowing each other and finding the best solution for the partnership. I’m confident as fans and as stakeholders we will all be winners in this deal.

What are your thoughts? Good deal or no good deal?