Stepping a little bit out of its normal operations, T-Mobile USA announced the company’s first naming rights deal earlier this month for the soon to open arena in Las Vegas. T-Mobile customers who use the arena will gain access to a few benefits beyond what other arena visitors experience. This deal seems to align with the company’s “uncarrier” marketing campaign, as it’s widely expected this new arena will soon be host to many sports and entertainment events, including an NHL expansion franchise, which would be the city’s first team in one of the major leagues.
We can presume that this would take locally headquartered T-Mobile USA out of the naming rights competition for the new SoDo arena, should it be built. Of course for T-Mobile, it makes sense to commit money to an existing arena in a market they find compelling, rather than waiting to see if an arena gets built in Seattle. This isn’t to say they might not still try to get the rights, as American Airlines has naming rights for arenas in both Dallas and Miami, but it’s rare.
This also reminds of the strategies behind naming rights deals. Apparently Chris Hansen and company have chosen not to seek a deal yet. This has happened in other cities, whether to get a early sense of the financial metrics a naming rights deal might provide, or to give an unbuilt facility a sense of destiny. But it doesn’t always work, as the Farmers Field folks in Los Angeles know. More common strategies are naming the facilities as they’re being completed, such as Safeco Field or the Vegas arena. Or, waiting a bit for better market conditions to strike a deal after a building has already opened, as we saw at Seahawks/Qwest/CenturyLink Field. The wait continues for an arena in SoDo, while the doors will soon swing open at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.