Space for Rent: Advertisements on NBA Uniforms

They’re on the sideboards in hockey, the outfield walls in baseball, and more recently they’ve shown up on the field goal nets in football.

Kevin Durant isn't leaving Oklahoma City, but he could be sporting a new uniform next season.

Advertisements are everywhere in sports — everywhere in life when you think about it — and they’re not going anywhere. The only place they’re not are on uniforms, at least for the four major pro sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL). That might soon change in the NBA, however.

On April 12, the league’s owners will meet in New York for their annual board of governors meeting, the first since the lockout which delayed this season’s start until Christmas Day. According to some reports, the league is struggling mightily and lost $300 million last season, with 22 of its 30 teams losing money.

In an effort to generate revenue, a topic likely to be brought up is placing advertisements on uniforms. According to a study by Horizon Media, the NBA could make more than $31 million  by placing ads on jerseys.

NASCAR has been placing ads on drivers like they were magnets on a refrigerator, and the WNBA began the practice in 2009. Soccer clubs, both domestic and international, adorn their uniforms with ads as well.

Some owners have been vocal about making the additions to uniforms. Most notably, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been pushing his fellow owners and commissioner David Stern to get advertising on jerseys.

“I’ve been trying to tell [the NBA]. If someone wants to give us $10 million, I’ll make it happen,” Cuban was quoted as saying last week.

An issue with adding advertisements would be splitting the revenue money among all teams. It stands to reason that popular teams like the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls would generate more revenue via ads than less popular teams such as the Charlotte Bobcats or New Jersey Nets. The same goes for superstar players like Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant, who attract a host of attention by themselves.

The question of tradition is also at play. Teams like the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks have recognizable uniforms that have never been altered, and some fans would likely be upset to see this tradition replaced.

The general consensus seems to be the idea is a good one, but needs specific guidelines and boundaries so as to be beneficial to all teams and not disrupt a classic look.

Photo (cc) by Keith Allison and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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