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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

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Aug 25, 2021 - Sports

What to know about the 2021 MLS All-Star game

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The 2021 MLS All-Star Game kicks off Wednesday night in Los Angeles (9:30p.m. ET, FS1 and Univision), and the stakes are higher than ever, with stars from MLS playing stars from Liga MX (Mexico).

Why it matters: Two leagues squaring off in an All-Star Game in the middle of their seasons is unprecedented. And these aren't any two leagues — MLS and Liga MX are regional rivals.

DOJ sues American Airlines, JetBlue to block "unprecedented" alliance

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Tuesday sued American Airlines and JetBlue to block an "unprecedented series of agreements" that will consolidate the two airlines' operations in Boston and New York City.

Why it matters: The civil antitrust complaint alleges that the planned Northeast Alliance (NEA) "will cause hundreds of millions of dollars in harm to air passengers across the country through higher fares and reduced choice," the DOJ said in a release.

FBI: Body identified as Gabby Petito, death ruled a homicide

A memorial dedicated to Gabby Petito near City Hall in North Port, Fla. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

A body found in Teton County, Wyoming, on Sunday was confirmed to be the remains of missing 22-year-old blogger Gabby Petito, the FBI announced Tuesday.

Driving the news: The death was ruled a homicide by the Teton County coroner's office, the FBI said. The cause of death has not been determined.