A rendering of the newly-named T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
What better time to announce a new naming rights deal between a wireless service and a Las Vegas arena than during CES 2016, the largest consumer electronics and technology trade show in the United States that happens every year in Las Vegas. As America’s “Un-Carrier,” T-Mobile continues to find ways to redefine wireless service for consumers and businesses. They have also now entered into their first multiyear naming rights deal with the soon-to-be-opened Las Vegas Arena, located just west of the Las Vegas strip. The deal was negotiated by AEG, along with MGM Resorts International, joint venture partners of T-Mobile Arena.
“We wanted to announce it in a manner that fit with AEG’s and MGM’s strategic objectives, as well as with T-Mobile’s,” said Mark Faber, senior vice president, AEG Global Partnerships. “We also wanted to do it during CES, which is the largest trade show we have here in Las Vegas. With T-Mobile’s initiatives with being disruptive, why not announce it during the largest consumer electronics trade show in the United States? It’s been well-received, and we think they’re going to be a great partner.”
The process for selecting a naming rights partner was long and included many conversations between companies. In the end, Faber said they liked the way T-Mobile gets the message out in a creative and collaborative way, making sure they can break through the noise and effectively deliver the messages that they want to.
“In today’s day and age, especially in a world with T-Mobile as a publicly-traded company, the optics certainly were glaring on what they were going to do,” said Faber. “If you follow the wireless service industry, certainly their competitors have naming rights deals throughout the United States. What they want to make sure is that this wasn’t just putting a brand on a building. They are the true un-carrier, they’re uncommon and they’re trying to redefine the way the consumers and businesses buy wireless services. If you take a look at their strategies, they’re more about connectivity and how to connect to people, whether they’re consumers or employees. And then by connecting, what can we deliver that no one else can.”
Plans for how the brand will be represented in the arena are currently underway and will include outdoor signage, as well as a lot of magenta.
“Magenta is a very important aspect for them, so we will have magenta as a part of the branding throughout the building,” said Faber. “We’re going through those plans now as far as how we can incorporate that on the courses and maybe through a lighting scheme.”
In addition to the branding, T-Mobile customers and employees will be privy to a host of exclusive amenities. A dedicated fast track VIP entrance will be available exclusively to T-Mobile customers at every event. They are also working on ways to offer presale ticket opportunities to select events in conjunction with premium VIP experiences and seat upgrades.
“We respect T-Mobile and we respect the brand,” said Faber. “They had not done a naming rights deal to date, so this was an important opportunity for them. Las Vegas is a key market for them and they, as well as MGM and AEG, realize the importance of Las Vegas and the millions of people and travelers who come here on an ongoing basis.”
Daren Libonati, a longtime Vegas consultant and promoter, agrees that the potential is matchless for T-Mobile Arena, because of the unique Las Vegas market.
“Most arenas around the country have a more repeat business model,” said Libonati. “The fact is in Las Vegas, T-Mobile gets the opportunity to have so many more impressions. And the number of impressions are not the same week in and week out. The beauty is when you count the number of impressions that are going to come, they’re all brand new eyeballs for a world destination. That’s what makes the partnership so special.”
The potential exposure and impressions that will come along with the deal are something that Libonati believes couldn’t happen anywhere else, and wouldn’t have even happened in Las Vegas just 20 years ago.
“What most people don’t remember is that it was a very different time in our entertainment marketplace in that it was thought that no big names would ever play the Las Vegas Strip or the arena because it was known as the place you went to when you were old and you locked yourself into a small showroom,” said Libonati. “Well it’s amazing after 20-plus years, we’ve reinvented ourselves. It kind of turned the corner and now look at the beautiful showrooms we’ve built and the theaters we’ve built and who the artists are. They’re people who will do these residencies. We really just reinvented that concept. It’s a pretty fascinating circle of life that Las Vegas has been through.”
As T-Mobile Arena gets ready to open this April, the 20,000-seat venue already has a number of events on the calendar, starting with an opening night of The Killers on April 6. UFC 200 is scheduled for July, Harlem Globetrotters, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Dixie Chicks, Janet Jackson, UNLV/Duke college basketball and the 2016 PBR World Finals are also upcoming. All 42 of the arena’s luxury suites have already been sold with only a limited inventory remaining of the arena’s opera boxes, club seats and private bunker suites.
Interviewed for this story: Mark Faber, (213) 763-7712; Daren Libonati, (702) 813-5345