When the Dallas Cowboys Football Club envisioned a new stadium, they went big. Initial concept plans called for a venue that would seat up to 80,000 people, feature a retractable roof, and draw legendary sporting and entertainment events such as the Cotton Bowl, Super Bowl and World Cup soccer. The new Cowboys Stadium would also be big in innovation, with end zone plaza areas marketed to young adults, field level suites, and expansive private clubs for season ticket holders with exposure to areas of the stadium not generally made accessible to the public.
The Dallas Cowboys Football Club (the Dallas Cowboys) knew the road to building a stadium of such legendary proportion would be layered with complications. They understood that location, financing, construction and environmental issues were just some of the factors that would come into play. Various timing deadlines as well as terms and conditions would have to be met in order to satisfy, among others, government and league requirements.
As they watched cities like Indianapolis and Houston undergo the new stadium process, the Dallas Cowboys learned that forward momentum required having the best negotiators and advisors available. They were aware that Winstead had helped clients in Houston set up a unique partnership to finance a $467 million retractable roof stadium. They learned that Winstead helped document one of the most expensive naming rights deals of the time, resulting in Reliant Stadium, and they knew that Winstead was helping the City of Houston pursue (and ultimately capture and host) a Super Bowl.
In 2001, Winstead was offered an opportunity to join the Dallas Cowboys team in their pursuit of a new stadium. It was the beginning of a great opportunity for Winstead attorneys to work side by side with the elite team that included Dallas Cowboys General Counsel Alec Scheiner and his staff; HKS, Inc., the architecture and engineering firm that designed the new Cowboys Stadium; Manhattan Construction Group, the contractors who ultimately built the stadium; and many other unique and talented vendors involved in the stadium project.
Winstead ultimately worked with the Dallas Cowboys throughout their exclusive stadium negotiations with the City of Arlington. This work included setting up the master agreements with regard to the stadium transaction and development, assisting with the fair share agreements for participation of minority and women-owned businesses in the project, and assisting in preparation for the referendum where the Arlington voters approved the City's partial financing and development of the new stadium project. Winstead's experience in the relationships between the team, public entities, tax matters, bond and public finance considerations and credit issues were critical in the process.
Winstead worked on the legal team that negotiated and drafted the definitive financing and development documents for the new Cowboys stadium; moreover, when the market crashed in 2008, Winstead attorneys were there to assist the Cowboys with refinancing outstanding corporate bonds in a tight credit market. This transaction smoothed the way to finance the finalization of the construction of the new Cowboys Stadium. On June 6, 2009, country music icons George Strait and Reba McEntire welcomed fans as the new Cowboys Stadium opened its doors to the public for the first time.
Winstead's legal team has developed a niche practice focused on representing governmental authorities, bid committees and team owners through the competitive bidding process and preparing them for the many details and requirements that organizations such as the NFL, NBA and NCAA demand when making special event award decisions. The Winstead team then stays on as the bid committee converts to event host committee, and helps guide clients through the various legal matters that arise when hosting major events.
In their work with the Dallas Cowboys, Winstead put this area of expertise to use and worked with the North Texas Super Bowl bid committee to develop and finalize the bid that resulted in the new Cowboys Stadium hosting Super Bowl XLV in 2011. The firm also helped their client with other major event bidding for the new stadium. In December 2008, after a competitive, year-long selection process, the NCAA announced that the 2014 Men's Final Four will take place in North Texas, with Cowboys Stadium serving as the competition venue.
In addition to hosting the Super Bowl in 2011 and the 2014 Men's Final Four, the new Cowboys Stadium hosted the Big 12 football championship in December 2009, The AT&T Cotton Bowl in January 2010, and the NBA All-Star Game in February 2010. There is speculation that the new Cowboys Stadium will someday be considered as a possible host to a World Cup soccer game.
Whatever the challenge, Winstead attorneys are proud of their work and their relationship with the Dallas Cowboys. Considered one of the most valuable sports brands in the country, the Dallas Cowboys continue to demonstrate that having big dreams and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve those dreams pays off for the team, the fans and the community.