Hoping to score an estimated $100 million in annual revenue, team owners in the National Basketball Association voted to allow advertisements on uniforms in the 2013-14 season.
The two-by-two inch shoulder patch ads will mark the first time that one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States has accepted uniform ads.
Team owners voted to accept the ads in late July; a formal vote by the NBA Board of Governors in September will confirm the decision.
Guidelines for the jersey ads will likely be released in the fall to give sponsors, teams and Adidas (which makes the NBA uniforms) enough time to finalize agreements. The ads, which will appear above the heart on players’ jerseys, will also appear on jerseys sold at retail.
“This is very much a loose projection, but our view is, on an aggregate basis league-wide, our 30 teams could generate a total of $100 million by selling that patch on the jersey, per season,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said at a press conference after the vote. “I think it’s fair to say that our teams were excited about the opportunity and think there is potentially a big opportunity in the marketplace to put [the patch] on the shoulder of our jerseys.”
Some fans expressed disapproval while industry insiders noted that jersey sponsorships will have to jive with league and arena corporate sponsors, complicating the process. For example, the Boston Celtics play at TD Garden, named for TD Bank. So a sponsorship deal with a competing bank would be an unlikely proposition for the team.
Why it matters: Teams will likely focus on the estimated $100 million in revenue rather than grumbling from fans. The NBA will be guided by the experience of the Women’s National Basketball Association, which struck individual teams deals as well as multi-team sponsorships in 2009.