Jerry Jones is a businessman and a very successful one. He owns the most successful professional sports team in America in the Dallas Cowboys. It took him a little while, but in 2013, Jones sold the naming rights of his Cowboys Stadium to AT&T for an undisclosed amount. That amount, however, has been speculated among experts and could be as much as 10 times the amount the San Antonio Spurs charge the same company for the rights to be named the AT&T Center.
Jerry Jones the businessman
Jerry Jones was an athlete before he became a businessman. He played college football at Arkansas and then made an initial attempt to purchase the San Diego Chargers with borrowed money. After that attempt failed, Jones made his money in the oil business.
In 1989, Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys from H.R. ‘Bum’ Bright for $140 million. At the time, it was the first time a major sports franchise had surpassed the $100 million mark when it was sold. As an owner, he immediately made an impact on the team by firing legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry soon after he purchased the team.
The Cowboys initially struggled under the new ownership, but then rebounded nicely with a strong run in the 1990s. Under Jones, the Cowboys won back-to-back Super Bowls and claimed three out of four during a very impressive stretch with Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith running the show on the field. Forbes lists the value of the Dallas Cowboys at $5.5 billion.
Jones was very cautious about naming rights
AT&T Stadium, as it is known today, was built in 2009 and was simply called Cowboys Stadium for the first four years. In 2012, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he wanted to remain cautious before selling naming rights. Some teams, such as the nearby Houston Astros with Enron Field, had been burned in the past.
“I have always said that unless we are ready in the right way with the right partner then Cowboys Stadium is the way we want it,” Jones said in Forbes in 2011. “Never had naming rights on Texas Stadium either because I wanted the focus to be more on the Cowboys and the team … I must say to you that I feel good that our stadium and the comments that will be made about the stadium, the visual images of the stadium that it will be referred to as Cowboys Stadium.”
The stadium, which cost more than $1 billion to construct, is one of the most expensive venues ever built. Country music star George Strait and Reba McEntire headlined the first event at the stadium in June of 2009. On July 25, 2013, Jones announced he had sold the naming rights to AT&T and the new name of the stadium would be AT&T Stadium.
The price for naming rights could be as high as $20M per year
Although the actual costs for the naming rights haven’t been disclosed publicly, Darren Rovell shed some light with a Twitter post back when the rights were sold. Rovell tweeted that a source said the naming rights deal between AT&T and the Dallas Cowboys is worth an average of between $17 million and $19 million per year. According to USA Today, Marc Ganis, a sports consultant with SportsCorp Ltd. in Chicago, estimated the deal could be worth as much as $20 million annually.
Jones did acknowledge that the deal was not the highest deal in the NFL, saying, it’s “not the most in dollars that there has been for naming rights.” Although the deal may not be a record-setter, it certainly makes the San Antonio Spurs’ deal with that same AT&T group look like a steal.
According to the San Antonio Business Journal, the Cowboys deal could be nearly 10 times that of what the Spurs pay. The annual payout on that deal, which runs through 2022, is a little more than $2 million.