Report: NHL to Test Uniform Ads During 2016 World Cup

NHL sponsor patch Pittsburgh Penguins

Could this be the first domino to fall?

In a story on it is reported that the National Hockey League will have national teams wear advertisements on their uniforms during the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. It is assumed that this would be a precursor to actual NHL teams wearing actual advertisements on their actual uniforms during the actual NHL season.

From Rick Westhead’s post on TSN:

The NHL has informed sponsors that it will feature about eight categories of sponsorships for the World Cup, selling each for about $1.5 million. To have a corporate logo featured on a team jersey would probably cost about $2 million per team, sources tell TSN. Buying the jersey rights to all eight teams would probably cost about $6 million.

“Our agreement with the IIHF/national federations provides us with all commercial rights to the (World Cup) including jerseys so we have the ability to potentially include a sponsor but have yet to decide whether we will” – NHL COO John Collins

Westhead also mentions that it is expected the NHL could fetch as much as $120 million via jersey sponsorship deals across all thirty teams.

I hate this news. I can’t hide that.

We’ve accepted ads on the ice, the boards, in-arena signage, even the arena names themselves. Uniforms seemed to be a nice break from all that.

It is speculated ads on jerseys could earn $120 mil per year for the NHL
It is speculated ads on jerseys could earn $120 mil per year for the NHL

TSN speculates the league could take in $120 million from jersey ads, assuming that’s split evenly amongst the 30 teams that’s $4 million going to each club.

According to Forbes there are currently ten teams, or one-third of the league, which lost money in the last year (*before* taxes). That’s significant. Adding $4 million in revenue to each of those teams would bring three more teams over to the positive side… that’s an acceptable reason to add a sponsor patch. On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be much need for teams like the New York Rangers or Toronto Maple Leafs, both of whom raked in over $70 million in profits over the last year, to wear a patch at all.

Perhaps teams should only be allowed to wear a sponsor patch as long as that patch is what’s keeping the team from dipping into the red… a badge of embarrassment perhaps? Once you’re above $0 you drop the patch in the following season?

Yeah I know, this idea would never fly, but it’s the only scenario in which I’d say “ok, that makes sense”.

I could sit here and rattle off all the reasons why this shouldn’t happen, but it will, it’s inevitable. Once one of the big four leagues do it (and we all get used to it) the others will follow. Just like the manufacturer logos already on the uniforms of the NFL, NHL, and MLB we’ll eventually stop caring. New sponsor patches will be treated in a similar way we treat a new uniform being unveiled… and all I’ll end up caring about is if the colours of the corporate logo patch match the colour scheme of the jersey it’s being applied to.

To the future!