North American Sports Continue to Embrace European Sponsorship Ideas
By: Evan Fraser
It is clear that sports sponsorship in North America is taking a major turn. In recent news, the National Hockey League (NHL) announced that they will implement jersey sponsorship with all teams for the 2022-2023 NHL season. This is something that the National Basketball Association (NBA) took advantage of only a few years ago as well. Companies such as FedEx, Motorola and PayPal pay top dollar to be the official jersey sponsor of current NBA teams. All 30 teams have their own jersey sponsor that is not only worn by the players themselves but also every single fan that purchases an official team jersey.
This practice is something that European nations incorporated into sports (especially soccer) years ago and has remained as tradition to this day. According to Scott Allen in his 2014 article around the history of jersey sponsorship, soccer fans and historians’ credit Peñarol, a Uruguayan club that were considered the first team to introduce the concept of jersey sponsorship sometime in the 1950s. Scott Allen also mentions that jersey sponsorship actually debuted in North America in 2006 when Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer (MLS) agreed to add XanGo to the front of their uniform.
From recent numbers put forth by the NBA, it is obvious that jersey sponsorship and new NBA sponsorship in general has helped the sport and the league grow immensely. Jabari Young mentions in an CNBC article that NBA jersey sponsorship has grown by at least 70% since introducing the jersey patch deals in the 2017-2018 season. Peter Laatz, an IEG global managing director interviewed as part of Young’s article mentioned that specific teams are getting even more than $15 million per year for the jersey patches alone. On top of that, it has contributed to the almost $30 million a naming rights sponsorship can bring in for any NBA team on an annual basis, says Laatz.
Statistics aside, other leagues such the NHL are starting to truly understand the benefits of sponsorships on jerseys to bolster revenue streams for each and every team as well as the prosperity of the league. Although there may not be a clutter of ads plastered all over such jerseys like some current European hockey teams, the league now understands that it is a no brainer to follow suit with the NBA. In a matter of time, star hockey players and hockey super fans will be seen all over North America rocking jerseys with sponsors similar to those currently in the NBA. We have reached a point in the sporting world where fans will want a sponsorship patch on their favorite team's jersey to prove they are wearing the team's true colors.