Announced in the spring of 2022, the MLB will be moving forward with allowing sponsors to advertise on uniforms and helmets in the 2023 season. Major North American leagues are slowly accepting that jersey sponsors are the future of sports and that they can help fund the league in new ways. So, after 120 years of not allowing sponsors on jerseys, many teams have jumped at selling areas on their jerseys.
Teams in the MLB will be allowed to have a brand put their logo on a four-by-four inch patch that will appear on the sleeve of on-field player jerseys. Following this news, the San Diego Padres were the first team to announce a jersey sponsor. The team reached a deal with Chicago-based electronics company Motorola for up to $10 million annually.
The sponsorships are a great opportunity for increasing revenue. In the 2022 season, an estimated $1.19 billion in sponsorship revenue was generated between the MLB and its 30 teams. Peter Laatz, IEG’s global managing director, said in a video interview, “The jersey patch is going to take baseball to a new level of sponsorship. The best way to increase revenue is to define a new asset, find new real estate.”
Currently, ballpark naming rights have been the biggest sponsorship asset cumulatively worth more than $100 million a year. The jersey deals are estimated to top those in many cases. Jersey sponsorships in other leagues have shown to be large sources of revenue; the NBA had a 30% jump in annual sponsorship revenue when its patch sponsorship was introduced in 2017. Laatz stated in the same interview that the MLB will offer more impact for sponsors because the season is longer than others and offers more visibility than leagues like the NBA.
As the 2023 season begins and jerseys will look a little different this year, it also brings up the question of how this is going to affect the MLB and its viewership. While jersey sponsors allow for more revenue in the MLB, creating an overall better experience for fans as the money can go towards helping improve stadiums and more; it could allow for the opportunity of seeming like money is all the MLB is after. A commenter on a Yahoo! Sports article on the matter said “Baseball uniforms are going to look like NASCAR, you won’t have room for the names of teams. GREED…. and the ticket prices are still going to go up…” It will be interesting to see how these sponsorships affect the 2023 season and change the future of the MLB.