SBJ/20100802/This Week's News

D-League teams secure jersey sponsorships

Two NBA Development League teams have signed jersey sponsorship deals, the first such agreements for the league as it follows the WNBA.

The D-League’s Erie (Pa.) BayHawks and the Rio Grande Valley (Texas) Vipers are the first of the 16 D-League teams to sign jersey sponsorships, or what the league is calling marquee deals, for the 2010-11 season, which tips off Nov. 19.

The Vipers have signed their deal with Lone Star National Bank, and the BayHawks have a similar agreement with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. Specific financial terms of the deals were not disclosed, but the three-year deals are worth six figures annually.

The deals put the respective company logos on the front of both the teams’ home and away jerseys, below the team logo, similar to the WNBA’s jersey deals. The WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and Los Angeles Sparks signed jersey sponsorship deals last year. The Seattle Storm signed its jersey deal during the current WNBA season, and the New York Liberty announced its sponsorship in June. Both the WNBA and the D-League are owned by the NBA, which helped drive the D-League jersey deals.

Logos appear on the Vipers’
and BayHawks’ jerseys as
part of the three-year deals.

“Our league is still growing and we think this is a great way for team partners to integrate nicely with the team brand,” said D-League President Dan Reed. “I do think we will see more of them. The partnerships are very significant in value for the teams and the opportunities don’t come along often to associate yourself with an NBA-branded league.”

The D-League began perusing jersey deals earlier this year as teams looked to take advantage of more sponsorship inventory. “The WNBA [jersey deals] were taken into consideration,” said Bert Garcia, president of the Vipers. “We took their example and what it was worth. The deal gives us more inventory, and generating revenue is a great part of it.”

The corporate partners also will receive in-arena signs, on-court branding, team website advertising, and a presence on team social media outlets.

“We’ve been a BayHawks sponsor for two years and now having [Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine] on the jersey gives us a regional presence along with some national exposure,” said Dr. John Ferretti, president of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Each D-League franchise is directly affiliated with at least one NBA team, and three of the D-League teams are owned by NBA teams. The San Antonio Spurs own the Austin Toros and the Oklahoma City Thunder own the Tulsa 66ers. The Los Angeles Lakers own the Los Angeles D-Fenders, which will not field a team this season but will rejoin the D-League for the 2011-12 season. The Vipers are privately owned, but the Houston Rockets have an agreement to control all basketball operations of the franchise.

Average attendance for D-League games increased 6 percent last season, to 2,898, and the league signed a television deal with Versus, which broadcast 15 games. The number of games to be shown this season has yet to be determined.

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