Editor's note: The above video is from April 5, 2016.
The NBA’s business platform is always focused on getting bigger, better and richer. The most recent example of the league's search for more revenue is a 2.5"-by-2.5" fabric patch that will be sewn onto team uniforms for the 2016-2017 season. The NBA is the first of the Big Four pro sports leagues to sell sponsorship spots on game jerseys for regular season games.
The new deal will run for three years and each sponsor will need NBA approval. Teams will keep 50 percent of the revenue generated by their individual patch sales with the remaining 50 percent shared equally among the league's 30 teams. Hard liquor, casinos and lotteries are excluded.
What's is unknown is how much revenue teams will be able to sew into deals.
The savviest clubs will add this patch as part of all-encompassing partnerships. In a recent article in Sports Business Journal, Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment and owner of the Nets, said he was targeting a deal at $ to $6 million a year. That might seem like a huge number for a tiny piece of cloth. But this is just a beta test for the league’s future, especially when you see the money flowing to teams in leagues like the English Premier League.
Global soccer clubs have been using jersey (kit) sponsorship as a major source of revenue for years. Just think about what's on deck when all of the Big Four North American sports leagues open up the floodgate...
INTERNATIONAL SOCCER TEAMS
Manchester United -- $45 million a year (Chevrolet)
Chelsea -- $40 million a year (Yokohama Tire)
FC Barcelona -- $25 million a year (Qatar Foundation)
Bayern Munich -- $20 million per year (Turk Telecom)
Liverpool -- $20 million a year (Standard Charter)
Manchester City -- $20 million a year (Etihad Airways)
The Brazilian National soccer team has signed up with Nike for a cool $200 million dollars as a run-up to the Rio Olympics and World Cup.
European basketball clubs have also taken sponsorships on team jerseys with teams in Spain, Russia, Greece and Israel raking in a major pile of shekels.
The NBA has global appeal and the patch will have wide-ranging TV viewership. The NBA tested logos for KIA on All-Star jerseys at this year's game. Just think about the impact of sponsors clout on teams’ that have Steph Curry, LeBron James, and over 100 international players.
The NBA already has corporate tattoos on courts, hoop stanchions, center-hung video boards and courtside signage. The potpourri of logos will now have a patch to take focus from existing advertising.
There will be a day when we hear the announcer say: “You are looking live at Tesla court in Chase Arena where the Google National Basketball League is proud to present the Coca-Cola Playoffs between the United Airline’s Warriors and the Hershey Cavaliers. We’ll be right back with the exciting Under Armour tip-off after this commercial break, brought to you by Ford.”
It may sound a bit extreme, but all you have to do is connect the dollar signs to see what’s already happening. How else are owners going to pay for billion dollar arenas?
WHO’S GOT NEXT?
In North America, Major League Soccer (MLS) has taken the shirt off their backs in exchange for putting corporate names on their chests.
The Big Four (NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB) are stitching together their own strategies on their way to full-fledged corporate branding on team uniforms.
NFL -- Going into the 2009 season, the NFL granted permission for its teams to have corporate partners on its preseason training camp and in-season practice jerseys. The 49ers we were one of the first teams that had a corporate sponsor, VISA, on their training camp and practice jerseys. It was an add-on to their existing corporate partnership with VISA.
NBA -- Before the NBA took the jump in regular season ad patches for the regular season, they allowed sponsor logos on training camp jerseys and practice uniforms. Teams in the WNBA and the Development League sell their jerseys to corporate partners.
NBA Development League -- D-League teams are in the $100,000-$200,000 range for logos on laundry. Clearly, the D-League was the laboratory for the NBA in working on deals for the future.
Westchester Knicks -- Chase Bank
Texas Legends -- Ah Chihuahua Mexico
Erie Bayhawks -- LECOM
Rio Grande Valley Vipers -- Lone Star Bank
Delaware 87ers -- Stubhub
Austin Spurs -- Texas Descon, contractor.
OKC Blue -- Continental Resources
Fort Wayne -- Lutheran Healthnet
Grand Rapids -- Metro Health
Santa Cruz Warriors -- PayStand
WNBA -- The WNBA green-lighted its teams to take jersey sponsorships several years ago during the regular season. Uniform sponsorships are in the $300,000-$800,000 range. The overall WNBA jersey sponsor is Boost Mobile in the half million dollar range for the league.
Tulsa Shock -- Osage Casino
Connecticut Sun -- Mohegan Sun Casino
New York Liberty -- Foxwoods Casino
Phoenix Mercury -- Casino Arizona, Talking Stick
Indiana -- Finish Line
Minnesota Lynx -- Mayo Clinic
NHL -- The NHL allows sponsorship on training camp and practice uniforms. They are changing uniform suppliers beginning in 2017. They will have patches on their jerseys at the World Cup Hockey Tournament in September.
MLB -- At this point, MLB doesn’t have any plans to allow corporate logos on their laundry.
Will we see pro sports teams' uniforms looking like your favorite NASCAR entry?