The AT&T Center will serve as a "mega-vote center" to allow for social distancing during the November election.
Spurs Sports & Entertainment are seeking new naming rights for the AT&T Center when the partnership ends in 2022. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The Valero Center? USAA Arena? How about the Frost Bank Fieldhouse? The home of the San Antonio Spurs is looking for a new corporate name to hang over the door.

Spurs Sports & Entertainment (SS&E) is selling the naming rights to the 20-year-old Eastside arena after its partnership with AT&T ends in Fall 2022, the entertainment company announced Thursday.

The AT&T Center, owned by Bexar County, has been home to the Spurs since November 2002. Its games, concerts, shows, and special events attract nearly 4 million people annually, according to a news release.

SS&E Chief Operating Officer Brandon Gayle said in a prepared statement the company was grateful to AT&T, and that the next sponsor will have “have a unique opportunity to reach and engage one of the most passionate and diverse fan bases in all of professional sports.”

AT&T, at the time called SBC communications, purchased the naming rights for the stadium in 2000 under a 20-year, $41 million deal with Bexar County, SS&E, and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. The telecommunications giant announced earlier this year it would not extend the contract, worth about $2 million a year.

AT&T was once one of San Antonio’s biggest corporations, but left the city 13 years ago for Dallas, where it said it had better airport flight options, as well as access to workforce and partners. It reportedly pays close to $20 million a year for the naming rights to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, where the Dallas Cowboys play.

To find a new sponsor, SS&E has contracted with a services company for sports organizations, Legends Global Partnerships. The company will use a “data and analytics-based approach” to search for potential bidders and negotiate a partnership with a brand that goes “far beyond the name on the building.”

Legends has found brand sponsors for several recently opened sports venues, such as the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, the Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio, and the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, where SoFi committed to spending a reported $30 million a year for 20 years.

Chris Hibbs, president of Legends Global Partnerships, said finding a sponsor is an “art and a science.” The art is building a story around the Spurs brand. The science is using data analytics to find prospective sponsors, such as companies that have a large headquarters in the area or a proclivity for sponsorship — or those companies’ competitors.
After the brand is shopped and potential sponsors found, then its time for “good old fashioned salesmanship,” Hibbs said.

SS&E could get a better deal than it did the first time. The AT&T Center underwent a $110 million renovation in 2015, which among other improvements expanded seating and installed a hanging video board. Hibbs also said the value of naming rights has gone significantly up since 2000.

Waylon Cunningham

Waylon Cunningham writes about business and technology. Contact him at waylon@sareport.org.