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Ads on basketball jerseys: is baseball next?

Jul 20, 2012, 10:35 AM EDT

stack of money

From my ProBasketballTalk compadre Kurt, a glimpse of what’s to come:

It’s about the money. It’s always about the money.

And putting a small 2-inch by 2-inch adverting patch on the shoulder of NBA jerseys can generate a lot of money, NBA Deputy Commissioner told the NBA owners on Thursday.

They’re gonna do it starting in the 2013-14 season.  They estimate that it could bring in $100 million by doing that. That seems a bit nuts, but clearly it will create a lot of revenue.

Soccer does it. Now basketball. Obviously racing has done it forever as have lots of sports in other countries.  We don’t want it to happen in baseball — purity, aesthetics, etc. etc. — but can someone tell me why this won’t inevitably stretch to baseball?  Just with a little patch here or there?  We as fans all would bristle, but who among those in power — the league, the union, the broadcasting rights holders and the sponsors themselves — would object? Who stops it?

  1. kinggeorge96 - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    It’s bad enough seeing the ads on the outfield walls at Yankee stadium… Ugh!

  2. stex52 - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    I don’t know, do you think they would actually sully our beloved sport in the quest for more money? They really have more respect for……

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Sorry, I just couldn’t keep it in.

  3. nategearhart - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    I really don’t see why anyone cares. It will have no affect whatsoever on the game being played. Sure, I have my “ideal” image of a player in a uniform, and that ideal doesn’t feature an advertisement, BUT as long as it’s dudes playing baseball I don’t really care.

    • paperlions - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      People don’t care….people react because it spoils their narrative that the owners of MLB teams care about money more than baseball or winning, which has never been true, though there may have been owners that were exceptions along the way. The more visual reminders they have that the owners are doing everything they can just to make more profits…the harder it is for people to act like it is the players (who are the entire reason any revenue is generated) that are greedy.

      • nategearhart - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:22 AM

        Agreed!
        I do think many are failing to consider how much people love corporations, and even “root” for them often times (Coke vs Pepsi, for example). Hell, we could create NEW rivalries in baseball if, say, Apple started sponsoring the Braves and Android sponsored the Padres. You don’t think fanboys wouldn’t get worked up about those games? :P

      • stex52 - Jul 20, 2012 at 2:11 PM

        I must say, though, that over the years I have seen a lot of decisions made for money considerations that had disastrous effects on the abilities of various teams (the Astros clearly being one) to win. Perhaps we can’t measure the exact motivations in many cases, but the consequences had to be clear to the owners/GM’s when they made the choices. I would be inclined to say more are in it primarily for the money than you are implying.

      • bigharold - Jul 20, 2012 at 2:59 PM

        “People don’t care….”

        Speak for yourself. I’ve no interest in seeing players decked out like billboards.

        The advertising on the outfield walls, .. the tie-ins with particular points or events in the game is fine because it was the same way 50-60 years ago when teams had far few revenue streams. Hell, even the bat day I went to at Yankee stadium in the 60s was sponsored by somebody. But ads and logos on the uniform is not only a bit much you can’t point to MLB and say it’s not doing well financially. What’s the end game, .. giving filthy rich owners yet another revenue stream, .. more cash for which they provide nothing extra? So what’s the reason, .. greed? I don’t even think that’s it. It’ more like; it’s acceptable so why not? Well just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be.

        I get it about MLB. What happens on the field and to an extent in the clubhouse is baseball and the rest is business but there is the chance that if they go too far they run the risk of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

  4. sictransitchris - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    There are already ads on the outfield walls, ads in the scorebug, every moment in the game is sponsored ([cell service provider] Call to the Bullpen, [car manufacturer] Drive of the Game), and sometimes they’ll just flat out display movie posters over a large portion of the screen — all of this on top of standard commercial breaks.

    Besides, where does this money go? When magazines have tons of ads it’s usually cheaper for the consumer… I’m guessing this wont make things any cheaper for the fans.

    • bklynbaseball - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:54 AM

      You forgot about the [beer] First Pitch, or the [whatever] Game Time Weather Conditions, or the [whatever] Play Of The Game………

      • uwsptke - Jul 20, 2012 at 1:24 PM

        You forgot the classic: “How about we score some [insurance company] insurance runs?”

    • Kevin S. - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      Magazines laden with ads make things cheaper for the consumer because there’s legitimate price competition and advertising revenue offsets costs. MLB teams are essentially monopolists and can set prices to maximize revenue constrained by consumer willingness to pay. Since it’s hard to believe that ads on jerseys will decrease consumer willingness to pay, the money will go to the owners, with some of it routed on to the players as the owners’ willingness to pay for talent increases with their revenue.

  5. garylanglais - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Whata mean? It’s already started. Jason Varitek wore an advertisement for Cap’n Crunch on his jersey for years.

    Oh that was supposed to be serious? Fooled me

  6. kopy - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    I think folks could have a lot of fun by guessing the most likely sponsor for each team. My beloved Twins aren’t a mystery, though. They’ve already had this patch: http://content.sportslogos.net/logos/53/65/full/xwsvycm9d11cejx3rfuoe0anv.gif

    • gammagammahey - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:32 AM

      And the Mets already had this one:

      A little more subtle in its approach but you know what they wanted you to see in it.

    • Bryz - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      Plus, I have a conspiracy theory that the mascot races are rigged so Bullseye (the Target Dog) wins most of the races. Indeed, this season he’s leading the charts in victories. He’s also the only corporate-related competitor in the race, as the others are a mosquito, Babe the Ox, a fish, and a loon.

  7. TheNaturalMevs - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    I don’t know, I don’t see it coming in baseball as quick as some might. I think the guys at the top realize that tradition (being called “the grand ole’ ballgame”) means quite a bit. Baseball wants to re-identify to it’s roots. It wants to be “When it Was a Game” again.

    I don’t think it happens, ever. It would be the ruination of the sport. Though I do remember some of those promotions at the old Seattle Kingdome when the Mariners wore uniforms of what they thought would be 100 years from now scared the Hell out of me. They had ads all over them.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:10 AM

      You mean this, http://poastcards.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/when-major-league-baseball-turned-ahead-the-clock/

      In theory it was 2027, as usual people had no idea what the future would look like (Interplanetary Corporations Logos!). I highly doubt in 2027 we’ll have interplanetary coporations, but I do believe we’ll have earth bound corporations with some assets in space actively producing revenue (perhaps as R&D divisions, or industrial processes only possible in 0-gee)

    • nategearhart - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:12 AM

      How exactly would it ruin the sport?

      • nightman13 - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:36 AM

        When decisions are based purely on money and offer no improvement to the sport it is the begining of the end. Just look at the NBA.

      • nategearhart - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM

        I’m sorry, but that argument doesn’t speak for itself as well as you must think it does (not trying to be insulting – I just don’t get it). What exactly happened to the NBA? I thought people lost interest in the style of play. Stuff that actually affects the game can “ruin” it (which is what I think happened to the NBA). Lack of umpire accountability, for example. If they put a fiery moat between second base and CF, that could ruin the game. But the logo thing…it’s still baseball. It’s still a great game, whatever they wear. If Willie Mays had had a corporate logo on his jersey, he still would have been Willie Mays.
        Besides, I thought Scott Boras was ruining the game.

      • nightman13 - Jul 20, 2012 at 2:50 PM

        The NBA started makes changes to the game to draw in more casual fans (ie $$$) and pretty soon the whole league became a watered down mess of a sport. It’s not so much the ads on the jerseys being the ruination of the sport, it would be the first domino to tumble that would lead to ruination.

        Look at the NFL. Rule changes to allow for more offense because casual fans don’t have the attention span for low scoring games. Lifting the ban on casino advertising in stadiums, and promotion of fantasy football despite the league’s long standing anti-gambling stance. All the talk about 18 game seasons. All decisions made purely for financial reasons that have had no positive effect on the game and in several cases have (would) had a negative effect.

      • nategearhart - Jul 20, 2012 at 3:13 PM

        nightman, I’m enjoying the discussion. Most all of the examples you cite were on-field/court changes, rule changes etc. I just don’t see how a patch on a jersey makes a difference to the game. Again, it’s ugly, and I dislike the idea in an aesthetic sense. But it doesn’t hurt the game itself. The Padres had a pretty good string of success on the late 90’s and early 00’s with some seriously ugly uniforms. Those 2001 Diamondbacks uniforms were disgusting. Again, it’s just a uniform. As long as no rules changes are made, I think we’ll be ok.

  8. Francisco (FC) - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    We as fans all would bristle, but who among those in power — the league, the union, the broadcasting rights holders and the sponsors themselves — would object? Who stops it?

    Batman?

  9. mybrunoblog - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    MLB has already had ad space on game jerseys. The early season games played in Japan over the past several seasons saw them in use. They looked awful.

  10. Francisco (FC) - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    This has been happening in Winter Ball since pretty much forever:

    You can see a telecom’s logo on the brim of the batting helmet and the Coca-Cola logo across the back where the name of a player would be. There also seems to be a shoulder patch. The Front of the Jersey is relatively ad-free. If you want an idea of how ads on Jerseys would look like, here’s a preview…

  11. bravojawja - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    The main problem with the soccer and NASCAR uniforms (as opposed to this patch thing) is that the ads are the uniforms. With the exception of Newcastle, I can’t identify a single EPL or other Euro team by looking at the uni. When baseball exchanges “Atlanta” or “Yankees” for “Metamucil” on the front of the jersey, we’ll have gone too far. In the meantime, just stick to the Spider-Man logo on the sides of the bases.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      Well it also doesn’t help that they put out/change 5 new kits every single year. A Real Madrid jersey from two years ago looks nothing like a current one. Or the four different alternate jerseys they make to get some $ out of the fans.

      • bravojawja - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM

        That’s not too different than what MLB does already. Sunday alternates. Road alternates. Sunday road alternates. Alternate Sunday alternates.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:19 PM

        Ads on soccer jerseys (and along the sidelines) make sense because they don’t have commercial breaks, other than halftime. It’s hard to complain about their existence in soccer.

    • anxovies - Jul 21, 2012 at 11:44 PM

      The New York Preparation H and the Los Angeles Trojans.

  12. The Rabbit - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    This is what you get when you have a culture that money is the most important thing in the world and therefore everything is for sale.
    I suppose the deal will include the ad patches on any jersey you buy, too. Fortunately, I own a seam ripper.
    BTW-I think corporate naming of stadiums is as bad and I refuse to acknowledge them in any conversation. I refer to them as “Team name” stadiums….or in Philly, New Connie Mack Stadium.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      Better known as: The House (of cards) that Ruben Built.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:30 PM

      BTW In that sense I believe that in the LVBP they at least generally name the stadiums after famous baseball players (usually a local legend) or important baseball people. Far more appropriate. For example, One team has their stadium named after their founder. One is named after Luis Aparicio, the city’s most famous Major Leaguer (played 18 seasons). Another for Alfonso Carraquel (third Venezuelan to play in MLB). There are a pair of exceptions but one is a University and the other is named after the state they play in, better than Fruit of the Loom Stadium or some such.

    • carolinakid - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      “I suppose the deal will include the ad patches on any jersey you buy, too. Fortunately, I own a seam ripper.”

      I agree Rabbit ! There’s nothing like paying someone else to advertise for them.

      F*ck that.

    • skerney - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM

      If you were a real curmudgeon you would call it New Shibe Park.

  13. sdelmonte - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    As I noted over at BBT (yes, I am weak and read about other sports), my big objection is that I don’t want to buy a jersey and pay someone to advertise their products. At least when a player wears an ad, the money is flowing to the team or the player. (I would hope that the players negotiate a cut if they are going to be billboards.)

    I don’t love the idea overall. But it’s never hurt sports where it happens already. And in Japan, the names of the teams are ads for the owners in the first place. So long as we don’t have the Chico’s Bail Bonds Mets, it should not be that terrible. But yeah, it’s still not aesthetically pleasing.

    • kopy - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM

      It dates the jerseys easily, too. I own a few soccer jerseys, and no one would ever know they’re a few years old except that the sponsor on the front of it has changed while everything else is the same.

    • Kevin S. - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      Don’t apologize for being a fan of other sports. There’s plenty of room to enjoy them all.

    • bravojawja - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:10 PM

      Japan’s baseball is sort of a different animal though. If the company owns the team, sure name the team for the company. It’ll get confusing if the company sells it, but the team isn’t identified with a specific location like MLB or even EPL. I’ll be disappointed if Nippon Ham ever sells the Fighters.

  14. nightman13 - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    YAY CAPITALISM!! Sh-tting on everything in the name of money since 1776!

    • nightman13 - Jul 20, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      By all means, keep thumbs downing. Cause the tech bubble, real estate bubble, Wall Street bubble, etc were all such great events for the general public and have nothing to do with unmitigated greed.

      • Kevin S. - Jul 20, 2012 at 3:02 PM

        You know, maybe people aren’t going to take you seriously if you try to pretend that the downside of something describes it completely.

      • nightman13 - Jul 21, 2012 at 1:18 AM

        I won’t engage you in an extensive political discussion on a baseball site, but I think the status of our country right now is more than enough evidence of capitalism’s massive failings.

  15. Detroit Michael - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    There already are Nike swooshes on MLB uniforms. That’s advertising. This is just another tiny step.

    It seems to me that there likely is a cost in terms of turning off the fan base, but it is hard to quantify and likely not as large as the revenue gain. When I was a kid and first entered the ballpark, I was mesmerized by the first sight of the green grass. Now, I notice the gaudy corporate logos and the fact that over half of the big scoreboard is really a billboard. However, after that, I enjoy the game. The excessive advertising bugs me, but it’s not affecting my buying habits.

  16. ianrbarbo - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    didn’t the red sox wear some electronic manufacturer’s logo during their series in japan vs. oakland a few years ago?

    • ianrbarbo - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:29 PM

      ah, sorry mybrunoblog. i just saw you mention this a little bit before i did. nice lookin’ out!

  17. budselog - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    This complaint is sponsored by me.

    David Stern is a class A asshole and I can see Selig doing this real soon. Well, real soon in Bud’s world is 30 years. So yeah – real soon.

    Thanks Bud!

  18. hughhansen - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    It’s probably inevitable. I think it’s a relatively long way off, though. Baseball fans and writers seem to feel more strongly about this than fans/writers of other sports do, and that will actually hold back ads on the uniforms.

    Back in 2003 (I think), they were going to have Spider Man ads on the bases and people went crazy, so they pulled the promotion. I’m sure the league doesn’t want to repeat that incident soon.

  19. makeham98 - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    The Philadelphia Union soccer jersey became a classic look once the advertising was used.

  20. carolinakid - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    If they do bring this on they better lower the price of the beer.

    $9 beers is BS

    • ashoreinhawaii - Jul 20, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      They’ll probably do something hypocritical and not like beer ads. But no, pro teams are greedy wh*res who only want more more more.

  21. mntreehugger - Jul 20, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    reminds me of the opening scene from baseketball…preparation h arena, maxi tampon stadium

    • chumthumper - Jul 21, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      Bet someone had to pull some strings to get that stadium name.

  22. ashoreinhawaii - Jul 20, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Look carefully at all MLB, NBA and NFL jerseys, they all already have ads on them, for companies like Adidas, etc. Think even this cheapens the game. Soon they will all have their players looking like that walking Nike billboard, Tiger Woods.

  23. roseann894 - Jul 20, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    I’m trying to think of the last time a major sport did something that would make me like the sports MORE, not less. Instead, it’s constant expansion (i.e.dilution) and monetizing every inch of every formerly empty space. I’m serious, someone cite a recent instance where a sport made a fan-friendly decision instead of a money-grabbing one? As for me, I just get a little more disgusted each day and a little less likely to buy a ticket/ tune in.

  24. chumthumper - Jul 21, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    If it makes a buck, Bud will do it. If makes sense for the sake of the game, forget it.

  25. yahmule - Jul 22, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    The real question is who will have to settle for Chico’s Bail Bonds.

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