This week the NHL released some news that upset many hockey purists around the globe. The NHL and SAP made an agreement to feature ad patches on game-worn World Cup sweaters. As someone who was firmly against jersey ad space, the World Cup unis opened my eyes. Which made me ask, would anyone really care if Las Vegas featured jersey ads?
On one hand I understand the groans of calling jersey ads “cheesy” and “bush league.” I mean, look at the English Premier League, it looks as if Team Chevy is playing Team Quickbook. Truly unappealing. However on the other hand, there’s no denying the monetary advantages. Look at NASCAR, UFC, Asian baseball, heck even the KHL does it. It’s valuable, I get it, so I understand why the NHL is going down that road.
Back to the World Cup, the jersey patch on each team’s sweaters isn’t entirely bad. It’s small, sleek, and blends well on one shoulder. Really, it doesn’t offend me like I thought I would.
Las Vegas is a brand new organization, with an untouched name and logo. It’s an unblemished, unknown logo so we don’t have the attachment Canadiens fans have for its legendary CH. If the NHL allowed ad patches I’m sure The Creator would consider jumping in on the idea. Why not make some of that $500 million back faster than planned. Plus, the more revenue a team makes, the bigger financial risks the owner will take. Allowing GM George McPhee to maintain important free agent players, or signing star UFA’s. I know there’s a hard salary cap, but having capital gives teams options.
Okay, so I’m in on jersey patches for Las Vegas, but what are the parameters?
First, let’s talk about the sponsors. The NHL has prided themselves on being a family sport. Which essentially eliminates any sponsor that targets adults only. Sorry Larry Flint, the Hustler Club will not be on a pro sweater. But how about beer? Adult beverage companies throw around lot of money on advertisement. I’m sure they’ll be targeted, just like cars, soda, and our favorite Vegas corporations like MGM, Zappos, and Cox.
Next is the patch location. The World Cup sweaters are uninterrupted except for a solo patch on the right shoulder. If the NHL only allowed teams to sell that piece of jersey real estate than I wouldn’t care if The Creator took advantage. It’s an easy contract and sponsors would line up for that exclusive ad space. The bounty may be big enough to pay for a few player salaries. Now if they extended it to the front of the jersey’s like the EPL does, no thank you.
Lastly is the issue of game-worn vs. replica. The World Cup is only allowing SAP to advertise on game-worn sweaters. While the players may be skating billboards, the fans in the arena will be fresh & clean. I assume that rule would be adopted by the NHL as well. If that’s the case, the original, beautiful Las Vegas sweater will be untouched. Who the hell wants a game-worn, smelly NHL sweater anyways?