The NBA announced Friday that the board of governors has approved a three-year pilot program to allow teams to sell a corporate logo on their jerseys.
Teams can now start pitching companies on buying a 2.5-by-2.5-inch space as the NBA becomes the first of the four major U.S. sports leagues to put ads on regular game-day jerseys. NBA teams had been wearing advertising logos on practice jerseys.
The first year of the program will be for 2017-18, which also will be the first season that Nike makes the uniforms after taking over from Adidas. The Nike swoosh will appear on every jersey.
Sources told ESPN earlier this week that the average team hopes to make $4-6 million per year from new partnerships, which would equal $120-180 million per year in new revenue. The money will be counted as basketball-related income and, therefore, split with the players.
The league announced Friday that jerseys sold at retail when the program starts will not include the corporate logo, though teams will have the option to sell a version that includes the logo.
Commissioner Adam Silver led the project to permit advertising on jerseys.
“It’s manifest destiny,” Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols last month. “So let’s begin by saying this isn’t going to affect the competition. What we’re talking about is a patch on the jersey. And one of the reasons we want to do it is that it creates an additional investment in those companies in the league … the amplification we get from those sponsors, those marketing partners of the league, who want to attach to our teams and our players.
“But once they put their name on the jerseys, they’ll then use their media to promote the NBA extensively. That’s probably the greatest reason for us to do it.”
The NBA first started discussing putting ads on jerseys in 2009, when the WNBA agreed to allow the practice. In many cases, the corporate logo is bigger than the team’s name on WNBA jerseys.