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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The NHL will allow teams to sell sponsorship patches on their uniforms beginning in the 2022-23 season.

Why it matters: Jersey advertisements have become increasingly prevalent in North American sports over the past decade or so, and the pandemic appears to be speeding up adoption.

  • MLS and the WNBA have had jersey sponsors for years, and NBA teams began selling patches in 2017 for an average of roughly $10 million per season.
  • One MLB executive called uniform patches "inevitable," and it's hard to imagine the NFL not eventually following suit and leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

The backdrop: Leagues are carving out all kinds of new space for advertisers to recover from pandemic losses. The NHL debuted helmet ads last year, the NBA is ramping up virtual on-court ads and MLB umpires now have a cryptocurrency sponsor on their shirts.

Bridgestone was the Predators' helmet sponsor last season. Photo: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

What they're saying: "When you put a logo next to another logo, they tend to negate each other," says sports graphic designer Todd Radom. But not all patches are the same, with some logo and color combinations working better than others.

  • That being said, "anecdotal evidence suggests that younger fans don't care as much about this," adds Radom. "They're bombarded by brand impressions in ways that I certainly never was growing up."

Of note: The rise of jersey sponsorships in North America still pales in comparison to Europe, where a single soccer uniform can generate three different revenue streams.

  • For example, Manchester United makes $103 million from Adidas (kit supplier), $65 million from TeamViewer (jersey sponsor) and $27 million from Kohler (sleeve sponsor). That's $195 million a year.
  • It's no mistake, then, that MLS recently added sleeve and short sponsors. And while MLB uniforms may never look as cluttered as Premier League kits, make no mistake: the ads are coming.

The bottom line: What was once jarring — like a "Wish" logo on the iconic Lakers jersey, or a Nike swoosh atop the Yankees pinstripes — now feels normal. It's also just the beginning.

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2021 - Sports

Where it stands: Weed policies by U.S. sports league

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With public support for marijuana legalization nearing unanimity, and more athletes using cannabis to treat pain, the four major U.S. sports leagues continue to reduce restrictions and punishments.

Driving the news: NBA players won't be subject to random marijuana testing this season, an extension of an agreement between the league and its players' union that began ahead of the 2020 Orlando restart.

Updated Oct 19, 2021 - Sports

Baseball's minor leaguers get a major win

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Starting next season, MLB teams will be required to provide housing for minor league players.

Why it matters: "This is a historic victory," Harry Marino, director of the nonprofit Advocates for Minor Leaguers, told ESPN. It's also just the beginning of a fight for improved quality of life.

First look: Senators propose bill to ban corporate PACs

Sens. Jon Ossoff and Mark Kelly. Photos: Chip Somodevilla (left), Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) will soon propose a bill prohibiting for-profit corporations from establishing and managing political action committees, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The introduction of "The Ban Corporate PACs Act" comes amid heightened scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding money in politics, including efforts to bar companies from influencing political campaigns and federal elections. It would likely face a court challenge and First Amendment concerns.