- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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OXNARD, Calif. -- For the first time in franchise history, the Dallas Cowboys have chosen cash over cachet, and it's hard to blame them.
As their $1.2 billion home begins its fifth football season, it will now be known as AT&T Stadium, and no longer Cowboys Stadium, as part of a deal with the telecommunications company.
Whatever AT&T has paid the Cowboys for the naming rights, it will be significant and obviously a lot better than the $0 they received in the stadium's first four years.
But when you said Cowboys Stadium, people knew what it was, if not necessarily where it was. With AT&T Stadium, will everybody immediately know what and where it is? Maybe.
Think about the most famous stadiums or arenas across the country. Yankee Stadium doesn't have a naming-rights deal. Fenway Park, Lambeau Field, Soldier Field and the Rose Bowl are iconic and without naming-rights deals.
Do people know the difference between the American Airlines Center and AmericanAirlines Arena?
From 1960 to 1971, the Cowboys called the Cotton Bowl home. Early in the 1971 season, they moved to Texas Stadium in Irving, where they remained until 2008.
They have called Cowboys Stadium in Arlington home since 2009.
Already the most-valued NFL franchise and the fifth-highest-valued franchise in the world, according to Forbes Magazine, maybe this deal will push the Cowboys ($2.1 billion) back into the top three ahead of the New York Yankees ($2.3 billion) and FC Barcelona ($2.6 billion).
This isn't to blame owner and general manager Jerry Jones for doing what he's doing. He's the NFL's best marketer, and it had to pain him to not have a naming-rights deal for so long. The economy was terrible when the stadium opened but has gotten better. He put a lot of his own money into the stadium and has a debt that he has to pay off -- and he is supposedly close to paying it all off if he wants to do so.
Some of the in-fighting among NFL owners over the years has been about teams' inability to sell. Legend has it that Jones famously told Cincinnati owner Mike Brown to come up with a naming-rights deal for his stadium if he wanted more money. The Bengals' home is known as Paul Brown Stadium, named after the franchise's founder.
There was some irony when Jones could not sell the name for the price he wanted, putting him in the same company with Brown.
So now Jones and AT&T have come up with an agreement.
But will you call it AT&T Stadium? Or has Cowboys Stadium earned its way into the lexicon?