Jersey advertising coming to the NHL?

Jason Gregor
July 30 2009 12:01PM

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The NHL is always looking at ways to generate more money, and don’t be surprised if you see you see a NHL jerseys sporting a “Wanye’s Rehab Clinic” logo in the near future.

USA Today had an interesting article describing that ads on practice and game jerseys will be reality very soon.

Read on about what it said regarding the NHL (I cut out the parts that mention the WNBA because, really, who cares):

The hunger for new revenue during the economic downturn has the NBA and NHL entertaining the once-taboo prospect of corporate sponsorships for game uniforms. Beginning this season the NBA will let teams sell ads on their practice jerseys, says deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who adds the league is continuing to explore the issue of ads on game jerseys. "We are operating a diverse business all around the world," Silver says. "(The sponsored game jersey) is a well-established practice in other countries. Ultimately, I think our fans will come to accept it." NHL chief operating officer John Collins says the league might put ads on game jerseys for the right price. The NFL's Tennessee Titans have had a small patch for a local hospital on their practice jerseys since relocating from Houston more than a decade ago, and the league put rules in place last spring to permit the activity league-wide. Five teams — the New York Jets, New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears — have taken advantage, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says. The Jets will get more than $2 million a year from a deal with Atlantic Health that includes practice uniform patches and its name on the team's training facility, says Matthew Higgins, the team's executive vice president of business operations. McCarthy says the NFL initiative excludes certain products, including those of alcohol, tobacco and casino companies. The NHL — which pushed the envelope 30 years ago by allowing teams to sell advertising on the boards — is going high-tech to attract corporate dollars by offering marketers the chance to insert so-called "virtual" ads inside national game telecasts on NBC and Versus. These computer-generated signs, typically superimposed on the crowd, are only visible to TV viewers and not to fans at the game. "As with anything new, you weigh tradition with the commercialization of sports," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says. "Obviously, sports are becoming more commercialized each and every year. We have that debate internally all the time. Where do you draw the line? How much is too much? You have to protect the look and feel of the game. You look at professional hockey played in Europe and there's advertising on jerseys and on the ice. You can have so much advertising on the ice that it can be distracting to players. There's a balance there."

All of you are die-hard hockey fans: if you aren’t at the game you’ll do almost anything to ensure you're watching at home. Do the virtual ads bother you? And I’m curious if fans would really care if there were logos on NHL jerseys.

I’m a traditionalist in many facets of the game, including how it is presented. The glowing puck pissed me off to no end. How could Americans say they couldn’t see a black puck on a white ice, yet they could follow a 100 MPH fastball without a complaint?

I’d rather see them add logos to the jersey than change the size of the net, or ban fighting, or get rid of unlimited overtime in the playoffs. Those are traditions that matter to me. The introduction of third Jerseys or retro Jerseys has softened my stance on what the players wear. I would hope the sponsor logo isn’t embedded in the Oiler logo, but if it is on the shoulder patch, I could care less. Although I think a warm up jersey is a better start, rather than the actual game jersey.

When my brother played for the Birmingham Bulls, they had warm up jerseys that were black on the left half and red on the right, and they had a Chevron logo on the front shoulder and on the back below the number. It is one of the coolest looking jerseys I’ve ever seen, but they didn’t wear it in games, only in warm up.

Leagues want to make money, but will logos deface the jersey? Just because it happens in Europe doesn’t mean it has to happen here. While players come and go, fans remain loyal to the jersey. Do you want that jersey plastered with “Wanye’s Rehab Clinic” or “Brownlee’s cure for smoking” logos?

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#101 niinimaa44
July 31 2009, 10:42AM
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It's bad enough that the NHL scrapped the traditional hockey sweater for an NFL-style mighty-tighty look, but please no advertisements. Watching an international game is a disgrace. You can't even see the ice anymore with all the ads on it and most of the time you can't even tell what the team's logo actually is on the jersey because the logo crests are smaller and there are so many ads. I am sick of everything in the NHL being about money. Leave good enough alone for once.

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#102 Westcoastoil
July 31 2009, 11:07AM
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How's it going to work for the few players (eg. Crosby) who have conflicting sponsorships. I bet Gatorade wouldn't be too thrilled if the Pens had a 7-11 Big Gulp patch on their jersey. And if you're Gatorade paying Crosby, how do they feel about either paying more $ to have their name on the Pens jersey to protect their sponsorship with Crosby, or watch Crosby get more face time with 7-11 then with Gatorade.

Interesting situation, though admittedly it applies to maybe 3 players.

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#103 Jason Gregor
July 31 2009, 11:14AM
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Chaz wrote:

Amen to that Word. I’ve been preaching this idea to anyone who will listen for years. It would mean playoff style hockey for more of the year and would grow the sport IMO. It’ll never happen though as it would mean a short-term loss of revenue for the owners, and they are too short-sighted to ever implement something like this. It would also make games all year more meaningfull, and might actually justify paying $120 for a ticket in Oct / Nov.

If they go to 65 games your ticket will go up to cover up the loss in revenue. No way the league reduces the number of games because taking away 18 games would be cutting almost 25% of the revenue.

The games in the regular season will never be as intense as the playoffs. Never. They only benefit would be they could play on set days. But no way the league thinks taking close to a 25% pay cut will benefit them in the long run.

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#104 Josh
July 31 2009, 11:19AM
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I think adding advertisements to jerseys is a terrible idea. Do not sell out the integrity of the game out to coke and shell!!!!!!!

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#105 Chaz
July 31 2009, 11:28AM
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@ Jason Gregor: Just for the record, I actually also said I never thought it would happen. The owners would never make a change that resulted in a loss of revenue.

Jason, you say that games in the regular season will never be as intense as the playoffs, and I agree with you. That being said, if you cut down on the number of games wouldn't you agree that the intensity level would go up in proportion to the importance of each game? Not playoff intensity, but better than what we see now in the regular season.

My reasoning is that fewer, higher-intensity games during the regular season could increase TV viewership and therefore league revenues a la the NFL. I'm a realist and don't actually think this will ever fly, but I for one would rather watch fewer games that are more like the playoffs, than 82 games, many of which are total sleepers. I honestly believe in the long run the league would be stronger this way.

One more quick example; The Soccer leagues in Europe don't even have playoffs. They simply decide upon a winner once a team has it mathematically sealed. That means all of their games have a playoff atmosphere and level of intensity. Apples and oranges I know, but I always find myself in awe every spring at how great playoff hockey is. Anything to get the sport like that during the regular season is something worth pursuing IMO.

There you have it folks; my Friday pipe-dream. Sorry for rambling...

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#106 Chumpkins
July 31 2009, 11:50AM
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After watching the fantastic Esks game last night I noticed that they have RONA and Scotia Bank patches on there jerseys. Never noticed them before.

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#107 smiliegirl15
July 31 2009, 12:08PM
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@ Westcoastoil:

You make a good point. Is there a conflict of interest then?

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#108 Westcoastoil
July 31 2009, 06:09PM
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@ smiliegirl15:

It's like to goofy deal that happened a number of years ago in the NFL when Reebok got the contract for all the shoes and the Nike guys were taping over the swoosh

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