Some thoughts on ads on NBA uniforms

Word broke last night that the NBA is inching closer to featuring ads on team uniforms. This development has been approaching slowly but surely; I called it back in 2005 and discussed the topic this past May in Print Magazine.

What to make of this? As I've stated previously, this real estate is far too precious (and potentially lucrative) to ignore as a source of revenue. The business of professional sports in America is booming, despite the crushing recession that we've been mired in for 4+ years. Technology and broadcast-driven revenue streams have skyrocketed in recent years. The Leagues have discovered new ways to make money, and this represents the next leg of a journey that's been going on for a long, long time. At the same time, the NBA is in the midst of implementing a revenue-sharing plan that represents a seismic shift for their business, so seeking out new sources of income is not a surprising development.

I will once again state the obvious: sports fans are the ultimate brand warriors. Our teams' uniforms connect generations of fans in a passionate, tribal manner. Messing with the dynamics of this has the potential to backfire in a permanent way. The venues where we go to watch sports have been named for companies for years, we've become desensitized to advertising in many ways, but the field/court/rink of play, between the lines, really should remain sacred real estate.

We are constantly being told by incoming team owners that sports franchises are civic institutions and a public trust. Nothing good can come from the diminishment of a powerful brand, thus creating confusion in the marketplace. Pandora's Box is about to be opened.