MLS recently announced teams will be able to sell advertising real estate on players’ shorts. This marks the third jersey sponsorship location for teams, including front-of-jersey, right sleeve, and now shorts.
The league has given teams clearance to seek and negotiate deals in time for the multi-week tournament in Disney that marks the return of the league after the coronavirus hiatus.
The importance of sponsorship real estate
Additional uniform ad space is important for several reasons, the most obvious of which is a potential additional revenue source for teams that could use an economic boost. Just last week, MLS commissioner Don Garber announced the coronavirus pandemic will cost the league $1 billion in revenues. Will short sponsorships make up the revenue losses? No, but they can add a needed injection of money to teams that may very likely not be collecting gate revenues in 2020.
Another reason why the addition of short sponsorships is important is it allows teams to make up for lost advertising opportunities with existing partners. No games has meant things like video board ads or video screen spots aren’t being played. No national or local TV broadcasts means things like sponsored segments or on-air reads are non-existent. Adding a patch to the shorts can give a brand much-needed visibility in a make-good arrangement.
Short-term fix or long-term value?
Will the addition of partners for shorts real estate be a permanent thing or a short-term solution? We’ll find out, but it marks a bit of a loosening of the reigns by MLS in allowing teams to seek additional revenue sources based on the value and visibility of each team’s jersey.
If any team has a shorts sponsor when they arrive in Disney in July, look for it to be a local sponsor and likely not a new national or global brand.
Will shorts be the last space for advertising? The league is reportedly also looking at the left sleeve as a place for sponsor placement. Four teams secured sponsors for the right sleeve as they entered the 2020 season.