The Washington Capitals continue as innovators in sports marketing. The NHL team announced today that starting in the 2022-23 season they will wear a Caesars Entertainment logo on their home jerseys and alternate third jerseys.
The Capitals are the first professional team in the U.S. to sell the patch sponsorship/advertising rights to a gaming company. The deal with Caesars is a multi-year arrangement. This comes only three years after the NBA began selling patch sponsorships, though no NBA team has yet inked a deal with a sports betting or casino gaming company.
Earlier in 2021, the Caesars by William Hill sportsbook opened in Capital One Arena, the home of the Capitals. That made it the first U.S. professional sports venue with a sportsbook on its property.
NHL Allows Patch Sponsorships On Team Jerseys
The National Hockey League passed a rule last month that allows their teams to sell a jersey logo sponsorship starting for the 2022-23 season. The Capitals are the first to announce a deal, though financial details have not been disclosed. Some industry observers believe the money for a jersey patch sponsorship may be as high as what teams fetch for venue naming rights, which can be in the $10-15 million range.
The NHL does not allow teams to wear patches on their road jerseys that advertise sports betting or casino companies. Teams may only wear them on their home sweaters for those states where sports betting has been legalized.
The decision by the Capitals and the league rule allowing it, are in stark contrast to prior attitudes in the league. Less than five years ago, when the NBA announced their intention to sell advertising on their jerseys, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman boldly declared that his league would never sell off space on their jerseys. But following the pandemic and devastating financial losses, the NHL has warmed to revenue generating ideas.
Caesars Marketing Heavily In Virginia, D.C. Region
The deal extends the brand marketing reach for Caesars, which in addition to the sportsbook at Capital One Arena, also has their mobile sportsbook active in Virginia. The company expects to launch its sportsbook in Maryland in the near future.
History of Advertising On Sports Uniforms
While the notion of sponsor logos on jerseys may seem like a greedy money grab to some fans, the practice dates back many decades. In the 19th century, many early professional baseball teams wore their sponsors’ names on their jerseys, and in some cases “sponsoring” advertisers also had their names on the uniform.
More common was the practice of team ownership squeezing their own brands onto uniforms. In the 1910s, the Federal League briefly challenged the established American and National Leagues in MLB. The team in Brooklyn was owned by a bakery, and they named their team the Brooklyn “Tip-Tops,” after their best selling bread, and wore the logo on their caps.
In the 1950s, some Venezuelan soccer teams began wearing sponsorship patches and logos on their jerseys, paving the way for more widespread use of the marketing strategy by other teams in other countries. In the 1970s, the North American Soccer League (NASL) sold sponsorships on jerseys and shorts to help offset revenue losses.