Monday, June 22, 2009

Logos On Pro Jerseys?

From Joanne C. Gerstner at the Detroit News:
The previously unthinkable is quickly becoming reality.
How about the McDonald's Detroit Shock? Or a Detroit Red Wings jersey matched with uniform pants bearing the logos of commercial sponsors?
Major professional sports in the United States are coming closer and closer to making a big leap: putting sponsor logos on uniforms.
The practice is quite common in Europe and elsewhere in the world, where powerful soccer franchises such as Manchester United long ago sold their prime uniform real estate to advertisers.
But the United States has been different. The iconic Yankees pinstripes, Red Wings jersey or Dallas Cowboys uniforms have remained ad free.
The WNBA jumped into the sponsorship arena this season, with the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury selling space on the front of their jerseys.
The Shock hope to find a similar sponsor for their uniforms.
"We'd be foolish not to explore the option," said Tom Wilson, the CEO of The Palace sports and entertainment empire that includes the WNBA's Shock and the NBA's Pistons. "We're under real pressure with sports team salaries, and combined with a time like this, this is when people find radical solutions. Ticket sales alone are not going to do it anymore. The teams that are the most desperate are the ones that are going to think farthest out of the box.
"I think everybody will go slowly and carefully into it. We don't want to be in a slippery slope of NASCAR-ization of the uniforms. We still want to maintain some integrity."
LifeLock, the sponsor of the Mercury, paid $1 million to have the jersey space for three years.
And in this time of struggle for the WNBA, that money could spell the difference between financial life and death for a team.
WNBA President Donna Orender said she has fielded a lot of phone calls from executives in other leagues since her league jumped into jersey sponsorship.

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