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Volume XII, Number 183

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New MLB CBA to Allow Uniform Sponsorships

On March 10, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Players Association agreed to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, ending a 99-day lockout that was the first official MLB work stoppage since 1994. As part of the new CBA, both sides agreed to allow MLB teams to sell advertising positions on team jerseys and player batting helmets.

The addition of uniform advertisements creates an exciting new opportunity for a sponsor or brand to secure rights to a premier, highly tv-visible sponsorship asset. The appeal of significant brand exposure afforded by such assets amounts to a sponsorship value – in exposure and brand association –generally considered to be second only to the venue naming rights partner. And from an MLB team’s perspective, the addition of uniform advertisements creates an extremely lucrative source of additional sponsorship revenue.

MLB is the third U.S. professional sports league in just five years to open the door to uniform advertisements. The NBA’s jersey patch program, which began in 2017, reportedly generated an estimated $225 million of additional sponsorship revenue for NBA teams during the 2021-22 season. The NHL began allowing helmet decal advertisements for the first time this season, and it has reportedly generated an estimated $100 million of additional annual sponsorship revenue for NHL teams. The success of the NHL’s helmet decal program has proven to be so valuable that NHL will reportedly allow NHL teams to also sell jersey patches beginning next season. Finally, MLS – which implemented front jersey advertisements in 2006 – introduced a four year pilot program to add right jersey sleeves in 2020 to uniform advertisement space. The NFL is now the only major U.S. professional sports league without announced plans to allow any form of uniform advertising.

The specific details of MLB’s uniform sponsorship program have yet to be released. However, with initially reported estimates that the jersey patch and helmet decal sponsorships will generate upwards of $170 million of additional annual sponsorship revenue for MLB teams, it would not be a surprise if MLB teams quickly begin to take advantage of this new opportunity once it is permitted under the new CBA.

© 2022 ArentFox Schiff LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 88
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About this Author

Richard L. Brand Partner ArentFox Schiff LLP
Partner

Rich focuses on sports law, real estate and corporate transactions, e-commerce, hospitality and leisure, and partnership and corporate law.

Rich is recognized as a leading sports attorney by Chambers USA, a “Leading Lawyer” in sports by Legal 500, and as a leading real estate attorney by Best Lawyers and Legal 500Best Lawyers has also recognized Rich as a “Lawyer of the Year” for his high-profile sports work. Chambers USA notes, “he is highly regarded for his expertise in representing both...

415-757-5507
Anjelica L. Fuccillo Associate ArentFox Schiff LLP
Associate

Anjelica joined ArentFox Schiff as a Summer Associate and returned to the firm after graduating from law school. While in law school, Anjelica served as a legal intern for a prominent real estate developer in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. There, she assisted in-house counsel with an array of commercial real estate and leasing transactions. Anjelica also served on the Executive Board for the Georgetown Sports, Entertainment, and Media Society (GEMALaw).

202-857-6122
Zak Welsh Associate ArentFox Schiff LLP
Associate

Zak’s practice focuses on advising clients on corporate and transactional matters in the sports, entertainment, media, and real estate industries. Zak has considerable experience representing professional sports franchises, owners and operators of professional sports and entertainment venues, sponsors in connection with naming rights transactions, sponsorship transactions, facility and event leasing and licensing, advertising and promotional agreements, suite and club seat licensing, and other related matters.

In addition to his sports and...

415-757-5901
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