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Volume 20 No. 41
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NBA inches closer on jersey sponsors

After months of debate, the NBA is moving closer to a policy that would allow teams to sell jersey sponsorships.

Under consideration is a plan for teams to sell advertising on a patch located on the front left chest area of the jersey, sources said.

The league tested a 2.5-inch by 2.5-inch patch with league marks on uniforms during the NBA Finals.
During the team presidents meeting last week in Las Vegas, talk centered on a plan calling for teams to sell a logo patch sized at roughly 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches. The patch was tested during the NBA Finals, when both the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder wore a league-branded patch on their uniforms during the games.

Team executives were shown video of the uniforms at the meetings, but no final decisions were made.

The earliest that jersey advertising could appear on NBA uniforms is at the start of 2013-14 season, as league officials take a cautious approach, but there is a push among proponents of jersey advertising to get an agreement in place as soon as possible to allow teams ample time to make deals.

Another key issue under discussion is whether teams should be allowed to sell the jersey sponsorships as local inventory as opposed to there being a leaguewide deal, though some of the league’s larger sponsor categories likely would be protected. The league would have to approve all deals, and there also is talk of adding a still-to-be-determined price floor to the deals to protect the value of the inventory.

Teams would not be able to sell different logos for home and away uniforms, and the jersey sponsorships would likely be multiyear, highly integrated agreements to drive the value of the deals.

NBA owners must still vote to approve the effort, but the idea of jersey advertising has been gaining traction within the league since league officials began studying the strategy in earnest over the past six months.

“We’re excited to work with our partners to integrate them into the very fabric of the NBA and believe this jersey platform will be a significant business-building opportunity,” said Tom Hunt, senior vice president of corporate partnerships for Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Washington Wizards.

If adopted, the NBA would be the first of the four major pro leagues to accept non-endemic advertising on uniforms.

“Being first is hard; following is relatively easy,” said former NBA marketer David Grant, who’s now a principal at agency Team Epic. “Once this happens, other rights holders will watch the fan criticism — and there will be criticism — and then react. When it dies down, the other leagues will jump in.”