SBJ/July 21-27, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • For Christmas games, NBA on a first-name basis

    Get ready for LeBron, Carmelo and Derrick — yes, first names only.

    The NBA plans to use its Christmas Day games again this year to roll out a set of newly styled jerseys, this time featuring players’ first names on the back of the uniform, placed below the players’ numbers.

    The front of the uniforms also will feature teams’ logos instead of their city or team marks. But unlike last year, when the NBA featured short-sleeved jerseys for its Dec. 25 games, this year’s Christmas uniforms will be teams’ traditional, tank-top-style jerseys.

    The NBA will begin selling the jerseys on Nov. 14.

    “Our players are so identified with their first names, and we
    wanted to augment that,” said Christopher Arena, NBA vice president of identity, outfitting and equipment. “We wanted to celebrate it.”

    Arena said putting the players’ names below the numbers is a way to call additional attention to the change. While the NBA has not released its 2014-15 schedule yet, Arena said that like last year, five games will be played on Christmas Day.

    Names will go below the numbers, another change.

    Figure on big-market, big-name teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls being included.

    The NBA last season also experimented with putting players’ nicknames on the back of team jerseys, with players from the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets wearing the nicknamed jerseys for three games.

    And while the short-sleeved jerseys may be absent from this year’s Christmas Day games, the look isn’t going away fully, even though the league’s biggest star, LeBron James, was critical of the styling last season.

    “Some teams embrace it,” Arena said, “some don’t.”

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  • Vegas’ Summer League heats up

    The NBA closes out its Summer League in Las Vegas this week with attendance and TV numbers for its games there up and league officials talking about doing even more in the years ahead with what was once a sleepy summertime sideshow.

    A record 23 NBA teams and one select D-League team took part in this year’s Las Vegas schedule, which was set to conclude today. All told, some 1,500 league personnel — including owners and executives, players, and staff — will have flocked to the 11-day event, which saw the league for the first time consolidate 15 tracks of business meetings and hold them together in Las Vegas.

    “We look at multiple tentpoles throughout the year, with Tip-off, Christmas, All-Star and the Finals,” said Emilio Collins, NBA executive vice president of global marketing partnerships, “and we see the Summer League as an opportunity to create a lot more programming and raise the profile.”

    One such programming element could be the creation of an NBA postseason awards show. It’s an idea that has been floated around the league for years.

    The NHL has held its annual awards show in Las Vegas since 2009.

    All 67 Summer League games were carried by NBA Digital this year, with 38 televised live on NBA TV. As of last week, the network was averaging 136,000 viewers a game, up 26 percent from last year with interest sparked by this year’s deep draft class featuring top picks Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Attendance at the games also was up.

    While the basketball side of the league uses the Summer League to develop younger players, at least one team used the event this year as a marketing asset. The Sacramento Kings flew out dozens of their premium-seat buyers as an added benefit.

    The Summer League this year also added its first presenting sponsor, Samsung. The league wants to bring other sponsors into the fold.

    “We see it growing,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum said. “Attendance is up and it will continue to grow, and aggregate fans and NBA partners are interested in that.”

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  • PGA Tour expands its retail presence with lifestyle products, new store concepts

    For the past decade, the PGA Tour has worked with Perry Ellis to create the tour’s own private label for apparel.

    But in recent months, the tour has begun to expand its range of private-label lifestyle products to include footwear, headwear, cologne, belts, wallets and socks to create a stronger brand presence at retail.

    “We’re in the process of really developing the PGA Tour’s private label into several areas that we believe will connect with the consumer,” said Tim Hawes, the tour’s senior vice president of retail licensing.

    These new tour-branded lifestyle products are coming out just as the tour is looking

    The PGA Tour is working with licensees to expand its tour-labeled restaurants and stores.
    Photo by: PGA TOUR (2)

    to expand its presence in department stores, including Macy’s and JCPenney. Retail is quickly becoming a platform that the tour says is growing and vital to its branding strategy.

    With a new array of private-label goods, the tour has begun creating prototypes of the store-within-a-store concept for retail outlets. Such settings inside department stores would feature most or all of the tour’s products while also expanding its footprint.

    The tour’s presence at retail has enjoyed a sharp uptick in the past year. Not only is the tour growing its own line of branded products, but it is also working with licensees to expand its tour-labeled stores and restaurants.

    Licensee HMSHost has been behind the development of the new PGA Tour Grill, which launched earlier this year in airports at Honolulu and San Diego. A new location at the Las Vegas airport is set to open later this month, and a Boston location is in the works.

    Those restaurants specialize in health-and-wellness menus with the slogan “Eat smarter, play harder.” The tour anticipates more than 20 restaurants in airports across the country in the next five years.

    The PGA Tour Superstore also has been in expansion mode. The tour issued the “superstore” license to Arthur Blank’s Golf and Tennis Pro Shops six years ago, just as the economy was failing, but the business has rebounded in recent years.

    The number of brick-and-mortar Superstores is expected to grow from its current 19 to 22 by the end of the year, 40 by the end of 2016, and 80 by 2020.

    Those stores average close to half a million visitors a year.

    The tour’s original retail effort — its airport shops — launched 25 years ago and now features 35 locations. The licensee for the PGA Tour stores, Paradies Shops, is the tour’s longest-running licensee.

    Those retail extensions of the PGA Tour brand have contributed significantly to the tour’s growth in gross licensing revenue, which reached $850 million in 2013. That was up from $770 million in 2012, and the push in 2014 likely will challenge the $1 billion mark, Hawes said.

    The significant growth the tour expects domestically might be complemented outside of the U.S. borders. Hawes said the tour is actively talking to prospective licensees for all three categories in Europe and Asia.

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