According to Sportico and first reported by the Sports Business Journal back in April, the NHL Board of Governors have approved ads to be put on jerseys beginning in the 2022-23 season.
— Sportico (@Sportico) August 17, 2021
Jersey Ads Coming to the NHL
This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following the NHL these last two seasons. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the NHL salary cap, owners are trying to find a way to boost revenue any way they can. According to the memo that was sent out to all 32 clubs, the board of governors unanimously approved the new policy. This will allow teams to negotiate with partners for ad space on the jersey. As part of the requirements, the ad on the jersey must fit a rectangle 3 inches by 3.5 inches, making them slightly bigger than the patches that the NBA added to its jerseys for the 2017-18 season.
Last season, the NHL introduced helmet ads, which had some backlash to start, but for the most part, were not noticeable. Outside of some teams who did not design the helmet ad that great. This was a way to generate revenue after losing the final 12 games of the 2019-20 season due to COVID-19. Commissioner Gary Bettman said back in March the ads on helmets helped teams earn over $100 million in revenue. And heading into this season and beyond, the helmet ads will stay.
In addition, before fans were allowed back in the stands, the NHL sold the tarp space for ads as well when fans were watching games on television. Those tarp ads stuck around even when fans were allowed back in buildings. Of course, certain markets got rid of them to allow for full capacity. Not only that, but sections of the playing surface had ads on them along with the glass when you were watching the game on television in certain markets.
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It Is All About Placement
Should fans be worried about these jersey ads? Well, you know some fans will not like the idea for sure. And to be honest, the NHL does not want to turn this into European hockey where there are ads all over the jersey. It comes down to the placement of the ad, Commissioner Bettman did address the topic, as he said he wanted to keep the team logo on the front by itself, so the best place is on the back near the name plate or at the bottom in the corner.
And most fans understand that the NHL needs a way to generate more revenue. And even with the helmet ads, the new television with ESPN and Turner, plus the Seattle expansion money (which is not part of hockey-related revenue, the salary cap is only going up by a million dollars. There has always been something about the jersey or sweater that has been sacred. Fans do not want to buy something that will look tacky. But there is a lot of money to be made in jersey sales. Just ask the NBA and NFL.
The company logo is already on the jersey fans wear already, so if they can keep it that discreet or in a place where the main logo is still present that is all that matters when these jersey ads debut during the 2022-23 season.