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NBA owners to discuss ads on jerseys at next meeting

Mar 6, 2012, 8:50 AM EDT

WNBA Sue Bird Ad jersey

It’s common in Europe — when you picture a Manchester United jersey you picture the AON on the chest. Same with any soccer or basketball team, the sponsors’ name where we expect to see the team name is expected.

What about ads on NBA jerseys? Patches somewhere promoting whatever company shelled out the bucks?

The NBA owners are going to discuss it at their next meeting, according to the Sports Business Journal (via Sporting News).

It’s a touchy topic, one that involves balancing some of the most influential league constituencies and addressing some thorny questions: Would uniform patches be league or team inventory? Will NBA broadcasters TNT and ESPN/ABC, or even uniform rights holder Adidas, want a piece of the action? Would the league take a PR hit as the first to accept non-endemic ads on uniforms?

Of course, the most important issue is also the most basic. “The most appropriate question and the answer we’re all waiting for is, ‘What is it worth?’” said Golden State Warriors president and COO Rick Welts, who did the WNBA’s first uniform advertising deal between the Phoenix Mercury and LifeLock in 2009. “I am not suggesting this is an easy issue, but I feel like it is inevitable. We just have to agree on value and what it would look like.”

One study last year said if you replaced a team name with an advertiser on a jersey it would be worth $31 million in exposure — and that was a conservative estimate that didn’t think about things like ESPN and other shows putting together nightly highlight packages. That’s a lot of money. It’s already been done on  practice jerseys used only on a practice court at a training facility by a couple NBA teams (Suns for one).

What about something as simple as Adidas — the league’s uniform maker — moving its logo into a prominent place on the jersey (the name is not on the jersey now)?

My feeling is this is coming — first with a patch for a company with a recognizable logo. For example, the league sells the rights to McDonalds to put a patch with it’s arches on every jersey, then that money is distributed to teams. Just a guess, but I could see that coming in the next few years. I don’t have to like it, but it feels inevitable.

  1. drunkenjunk - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    I really hope it doesn’t come to this. I never want to own a Mavs Jersey with Publix or Verizon slapped in big bold letters across the front.

    • lifelong - Mar 12, 2012 at 9:14 AM

      I can’t see this happening. David Stern doesn’t even allow the Adidas logo on the teams’ game jerseys now, and Adidas has a huge deal with the league to be the official apparel provider. You only get the Adidas logo on jerseys available to fans but not on real game uniforms. Now suddenly you’ll see straight up ads? Seems unlikely to me.

  2. AlohaMrHand - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    Are you kidding me?if this is approved who is to stop teams from changing team names as well?The Miami Carnival Cruises?The Cleveland Quicken Loans?This cannot happen.

    • bjavie - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:34 AM

      It’s likely to happen sooner than later. I am willing to bet that within 10 years team names will be the likes of, the “Comcast 76ers of Philadpelphia” or “PepsiCo. Mavericks of Dallas.”

  3. mvpolamalu - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    God no

  4. jobotjones - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Don’t ruin the sanctity of some of the most classic professional uniforms to ever exist to make a few bucks advertising sprite and taco bell. Please.

  5. makjak2 - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    terrible idea… this ain’t soccer

  6. acdc363 - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    If this happened I would stop buying jerseys. I don’t want to see a bunch of human billboards when I watch basketball and I certainly don’t want to be one myself.

    • franchiseplaya - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:46 AM

      Agreed. I would think that some of the revenue generated from ads might be offset by ppl not wanting to buy jerseys, at least early on. I thought they changed the name of WNBA team In LA to the “Farmers”

  7. Gordon - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Gotta milk every last penny.

  8. 16x8equal49ers - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    Won’t buy jerseys (I’m an Arsenal fan but I dont want a jersey I only buy t-shirts & aperral that doesn’t have “Fly Emerites” on it) I would only buy t-shirts that’s it.

  9. pkswally024 - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Greedy greedy people. It’s sad

  10. losangelasbasketball - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    The advertisements would bring 100’s of millions into the league… If 22 team owners lost money last year…. this change may be on the horizon…

  11. nolanwiffle - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Sue Bird is a minx.

  12. smackingfools - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Being it on. I’m looking for a last straw to stop watching the NBA.

  13. makeham98 - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    The advertising on the MSL’s Philadelphia Union jersey is a great improvement. What woman wouldn’t be proud to wear a “BIMBO” jersey?

    • CJ - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      just wait for that Dick’s sporting goods sponsorship.

  14. beavertonsteve - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    It sucks, but realisticly these are the types of changes that will have to happen to keep small market teams competitive and finance things like nice fancy arenas. I remember how people said they wouldn’t attend games in stadiums that were renamed with advertisers and now nobody really cares.

    • manwithpizza - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      “these are the types of changes that will have to happen to keep small market teams competitive”

      I disagree. The big teams can get a lot more from jersey sponsorship than the small market teams, so this actually widens the gap in revenue between big and small market teams.

      This is what happens in European soccer. Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool all get £20 million a year for shirt sponsorship. while 9 of the Premier Leagues 20 teams earn less than £2 million.

      • diabloryno - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:43 PM

        “My feeling is this is coming — first with a patch for a company with a recognizable logo. For example, the league sells the rights to McDonalds to put a patch with it’s arches on every jersey, then that money is distributed to teams.”

        As Kurt stated, this way regardless if the Lakers get $20 million to have a McDonalds logo and the Cavs only get $1 million for a logo from Quicken Loans, it’ll all still go into a pool and be even distributed.So it will still be beneficial to the small market teams as much as the larger markets.

      • manwithpizza - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:17 PM

        diabloryno, you are right if the money is evenly distributed. We don’t know if it will be, Kurt was just making a suggestion. I don’t see how the big money teams agree to this if they don’t get to keep the revenue they generate.

        On a much smaller scale, the MLS has an arrangement where each sponsorship must pay a fixed amount into the common pool, and then anything above that amount can be kept by the team selling the sponsorship.

    • CJ - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:38 AM

      It’ll help large market teams more than small markets. You mean to tell me sponsors will be willing to spend the same amount to get on a Cavs jersey as they would a Lakers jersey? Really?

      • beavertonsteve - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:16 PM

        Here’s a breakdown

        – Amazon pays $30 mil for Lakers jersey patch
        – Apple pays $30 mil for Knicks jersey patch
        – 7 Eleven pay $5 mil for Cavs jersey patch

        They probably won’t split it evenly, but something like-

        $25 mil to the Lakers
        $25 mil to the Kicks
        $15 mil to the Cavs

        Would actually make the Cavs(Hornet/Kings/Raptors/Bobcats) more competitive. I know it gives the big market team more money, but the impact of adding the extra cash to the small market teams is more important.

  15. jag8r904 - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    No no NOOOO

  16. manwithpizza - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    If we can trade a few commercial breaks for some jersey ads, I’m for it. I don’t think we are getting that trade here though.

  17. silverdeer - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    I can’t wait for the NBA to have their uniforms looking like the cars in NASCAR.

  18. diablito0402 - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    I would love to se ” KY lube Gel” instead of heat on miami jerseys.

  19. imaduffer - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Zig-Zag and the guys mug on the front of a jersey would say it all.

  20. diablito0402 - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Or ” vagisil” on the new jersey… Lol

  21. dadawg77 - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Naive thought that patches would help keep ticket prices low and NBA not asking for public funding, would be ideal. But that isnt going to happen. However if this generated enough revenue to prevent a strike in six years it might be worth it.

  22. nyasdad14 - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Horrible, horrible idea.

  23. eagles512 - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    What a disgrace!!

  24. Tribe&Browns&Cavs - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Maybe I’m alone in this, but when someone sponsors something obnoxious like this, I do my best to avoid using/supporting that company as much as possible.

  25. chiadam - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Chico’s Bail Bonds.

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