SBD/April 3, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Warriors' Rick Welts Says NBA Jersey Sponsorships Still Another Year Or Two Away

The NBA hopes to hold a vote to approve the sale of jersey sponsorships this month, but Warriors President & COO Rick Welts thinks it will be at least another year or two before owners approve the proposal. Welts, on the opening panel at the IMG World Congress of Sports, said, “Money is holding this up. The problem is that at a lot of levels, the local franchise levels, we are creating a disparity in revenue from big markets to small markets, and teams look at this as magnifying that (disparity) even more. So should we share that money? That’s a hard discussion to have with a brand new source of revenue.” The league last July began weighing a plan that would put a 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch logo patch on uniforms for the '13-14 season. Small-market owners are concerned the value of the sponsorships will be greater in large markets and that will allow those teams to pad their revenue and potentially help big-market teams pay players more and improve their rosters. Welts said team presidents think there is a “middle ground” where 25% of each team’s jersey sponsorship revenue goes into a shared pool. But he is not optimistic an agreement will be reached in the next year or two. Welts: “Everyone knows there’s a big pot there. It’s not uncomplicated, but the idea that we have hundreds of millions of dollars sitting out there and we can’t figure out a solution to bring it into the league, shame on us.” 

: IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne said that his experience at NASCAR, where he worked for 10 years, showed him the importance of having sponsors' logos featured prominently on athletes' apparel in competition. He expressed hope that the NBA would find a solution because it could help the sport. Pyne said, "It gives an emotional connection between the fan and sponsor. It works internationally in [soccer]. There’s an incredible amount of value.” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said that there was no way college sports would have sponsorship logos in the future. Scott: “There’s a saying in college: 'It’s about the brand on the front of the jersey and not the name on the back of the jersey.' It has got to be a clean pristine brand around the schools on the front of the jersey. You’ll see college resist that move to commercialism.” NFL Exec VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman said he believes the league will explore the idea of selling jersey sponsorship in the future, but he doubted the NFL would ever allow teams to do it. Grubman said, “I don’t necessarily see that the value difference compared to the current model would make that much of a difference from what we have right now. Different things work for different sports in different markets in different countries at different times. We’ll watch what other people are doing but it’s not on the top of my list right now."
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