The Univ. of Notre Dame will "switch from wearing adidas for all its team sports to Under Armour when the current deal expires at the end of the school year," according to sources cited by Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. Terms of the deal, which is "expected to be signed in the very near future, are not known." Sources said that UA Founder, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank flew to South Bend on Thursday to "meet with school officials." Notre Dame's deal with adidas began in '97, and the company in '05 "signed a 10-year deal that lasted through this school year." When Notre Dame signed the deal, it "was the top priority for adidas, but things changed" when adidas began providing shoes and apparel for the Univ. of Michigan in '08 (ESPN.com, 1/9). CSNCHICAGO.com's J.J. Stankevitz wrote given the "history, tradition and brand associated with Notre Dame's classic blue-and-gold uniforms, it's highly unlikely much about them will be altered." While UA has "created a number of controversial uniforms," it has "kept classic, conservative looks" for clients such as Auburn. Where fans can "expect a different look is with the design of Notre Dame's Shamrock Series uniforms, which Notre Dame has used as a recruiting tool by letting adidas create a one-off bold variation of the football team's look." UA likely will "have the same leeway in designing those Shamrock Series uniforms" (CSNCHICAGO.com, 1/9).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment CEO Norbert Teufelberger on Thursday "expertly fired a pre-emptive strike at possible critics" of Bwin brand PartyPoker's partnership with the 76ers, Devils and Prudential Center "by not ducking or trying to put a sweet side on the business he operates," according to John Smallwood of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. Teufelberger said, "We are selling gaming products and this is a very controversial topic here in the United States for many, many years. So we know a lot of eyes are on us. We have to do a good job and develop this product very respectfully and according to the local regulatory regime here in New Jersey." He added, "We have a tradition of teaming up ... with leading sports franchises in Europe, but this is the first time in the United States, so there is a lot for us to learn." 76ers, Devils and Prudential Center CEO Scott O'Neil acknowledged that it "took some rules changes from the NBA and NHL to make this deal possible." He said, "This doesn't seem like we're breaking any big taboos. I think for us the most important thing is being with a partner that can engage our fans in a smart way." Smallwood notes most NBA teams "have some marketing link with casinos" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/10). In New Jersey, John Brennan wrote the Devils are "known for being at the forefront of social media among NHL teams -- and that the partypoker officials clearly are aware of, and favorably disposed toward." Meanwhile, Teufelberger "did not sound familiar" with Super Bowl Media Day being held at Prudential Center on Jan. 28, so the timing of the PartyPoker announcement "doesn't appear to be tied in" to that event (NORTHJERSEY.com, 1/9).
TOEING THE LINE? In N.Y., Jeff Klein writes "at least one aspect" of the PartyPoker deal has "drawn scrutiny from the NHL, which otherwise signed off on the agreement." Prudential Center officials said that PartyPoker "will have booths in the arena" as of Saturday's Panthers-Devils game. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail noted league rules "do not allow gaming-themed promotions in-arena," adding the way in which the PartyPoker booths are operated "will be monitored to ensure compliance with league policy." Teufelberger said that the booths "would be purely informational." Klein notes there "will be no booths" at Wells Fargo Center because online gambling is "not legal in Pennsylvania" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/10).
Nike on Thursday "unveiled a line of products" for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in an "attempt to combat potential freezing conditions" for the Feb. 2 game, according to ESPN's Keith Olbermann. Players will have the "option to wear a dry-fit base layer with a hood underneath their uniforms." Nike also will offer players "stylish zero-slip cleats, as well as gloves lined with beautiful, textured fleece." Most products also will be made "available for fans to purchase at souvenir stands and stadium vendors" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 1/9). ESPN.com's Darren Rovell reported players on the sidelines will have access to Nike's Aeroloft Summit Jacket, which is "thin and light or a heavier parka, both of which are filled with goose down for warmth." Like "most of the collection," the jackets feature a "silver color inspired by the Lombardi Trophy" (ESPN.com, 1/9). Nike VP & Football Design Dir Todd Van Horne said the apparel is a "complete system of dress, so it's really designed to protect them from the elements and give them all that they need." He added the apparel includes "some new innovations" and some "new cleats to give them some performance on the field, as well as even sideline products to keep them warms when they're off the field." Eagles RB LeSean McCoy said Nike is "getting the right equipment and the right wear and not kind of bulking you up" ("Fast Money Halftime Report," CNBC, 1/9).
U.S. Olympian Kara Goucher, who for much of the '12 London Games "was the face of Nike distance running, may be leaving the swoosh behind," according to sources cited by Sara Germano of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. A source said that Goucher is "actively negotiating for another primary endorsement contract with other sports and apparel companies, though Nike has the potential to retain her through a contract clause that gives the company the right of first refusal." The source added that a "final deal is expected sometime in February." The potential move by Goucher, who "built her career as a Nike athlete and has lead a resurgence in the sport of American women's distance running in recent years, is one of a number of shifts by top runners as the sport enters a rebuilding year." With no World Championships or Summer Olympics in '14, "athletes and shoe companies alike have more room to take larger risks, like moving to new training hubs or signing new talent" (WSJ.com, 1/9).