Over the years, MLB players have worn sleeve patches of various kinds — team logos or honoring special events, such as the Home Run Derby patch shown above sported by Javy Báez at Nationals Park in 2018.
One of the new revenue sources for MLB agreed to in the new collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association is a patch that will come to baseball uniforms sometime later this year.
I know, I know. Many of you are opposed to this. Paul Lukas, who writes about uniforms at his great Uni Watch site, has been unalterably opposed to them forever. He wrote this article last summer when patches advertising a crypto company appeared on umpires’ uniforms.
Me? I can take them or leave them, as long as they’re done fairly unobtrusively and we don’t get awful things that look like this:
Which I don’t think will happen. In fact, per Eric Fisher at SportBusiness, there will be very strict rules as to the location and size of any MLB jersey ad patch:
The MLB patches will almost certainly be on the uniform sleeves, with a projected size of 4.25 inches by 4.25 inches, dimensions significantly larger than both the 2.5 inch-by-2.5 inch size for the NBA, and the planned 3 inches by 3.5 inches for the NHL.
MLB is advising clubs to sign agreements for five years, two years longer than the three years the NBA used in their first cycle of uniform patch agreements, a length also used by the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets for its recently signed agreement with Safelite.
The specific sleeve patch placement for each MLB player will depend in large part on whether they are a right-handed or left-handed batter or pitcher, all with an eye toward maximizing exposure either at the plate, on the mound, or in the field. Not surprisingly, there will be several forbidden categories for the sponsorship inventory, including betting, spirits, and media brands.
Team-level deals are expected to be finalized by many teams in the coming weeks and months in advanced of a planned, more coordinated on-field rollout beginning with the 2023 season.
That doesn’t sound too intrusive, and as noted, you won’t see ads for gambling or hard liquor on baseball jerseys. Think automotive, airlines, national fast-food chains, things like those.
For the Cubs’ jersey placement, the home pinstripe and road gray uniforms have a team logo on the left sleeve currently, so you’d think they’d put the ad patch on the right sleeve — unless they want to reverse those as stated above depending on the handedness of the batter.
The Cubs’ blue alternate jerseys have a National League patch on the RIGHT sleeve, so the ad placement would be reversed, going on the left, again unless they match the handedness of the batter.
Here’s the amount of money we’re talking about:
The NBA is now generating nearly $250m collectively per year from its uniform patch program, amounting to an average annual per-club revenue stream of more than $8m. Marquee clubs such as the Los Angeles Lakers are now gleaning an estimated $20m per year from its jersey patch.
Given the much more static nature of baseball and a game schedule twice as long as the NBA, MLB is expected to easily surpass the basketball figures in aggregate patch revenue, with several of the league’s top teams projected to each command nine-figure contracts spanning the five-year contract term.
So now you see why MLB teams wanted this so much. The Cubs could be considered one of “the league’s top teams,” given their national popularity. So that could be quite a bit of money coming into the Cubs’ coffers.
Let’s hope they spend it on baseball players. That’s kind of the point, right?
MLB teams adding an advertising patch on a jersey sleeve...
This poll is closed
Love it! Bring on the money!
Hate it! Keep ads off uniforms
Don’t care either way