Corporate sponsors come to NHL sweaters, as Minnesota Wild and TRIA announce multi-year partnership
While we remain a long way from the skating billboards often seen in European pro hockey leagues, the NHL has taken another step in the revenue generation department, with jersey patches coming for the 2022-23 season and beyond.
ST. PAUL – While we like to think that Americans have cornered the market on brash commercialism, we have got nothing on Europe.
The uniforms for soccer teams in England, Italy, Germany and elsewhere across the pond are dominated by the name of a corporate sponsor. And the uniforms for pro hockey teams, especially in Scandinavia, look alarmingly like NASCAR fire suits, with the name of a corporate sponsor adorning virtually every square inch from the top of the helmet to the skate blades.
We are a long way from that look in the National Hockey League, but North America’s top level of pro hockey took another step in the revenue generation game this week. For the first time, the NHL’s players association has agreed to allow a corporate sponsor’s logo on team jerseys. On Monday, the Minnesota Wild announced that the TRIA Orthopedics insignia will adorn their home and road sweaters for the 2022-23 season and beyond.
In an event on Monday at the Wild’s downtown St. Paul practice facility, which also bears TRIA’s name, they announced a multi-year sponsorship arrangement with Minnesota-based HealthPartners, which is TRIA’s parent company. Per Wild officials, the extra revenue the jersey sponsorship will generate is vital as clubs work to normalize their budgets in the wake of the pandemic.
“Let’s be honest – COVID has taken a toll on our whole world, including our industry and our sport,” said Wild team president Matt Majka. “We’re making our way through it as best we can, so to have this new revenue stream is really meaningful and really helpful to all the teams.”
The uniform logo revolution actually began in the immediate wake of the pandemic, as teams began wearing a corporate sponsor’s name on their helmets. Toyota has paid for space on the Wild helmets, and that partnership will continue. Majka noted that the NBA began allowing a sponsor logo on their jerseys five years ago.
While details of the partnership with TRIA were not revealed, some sports business experts have speculated that high profile teams can expect to command as much as $10 million per season for a jersey patch, and one NHL executive told Sports Business Journal that the league’s 32 teams are expected to bring in more than $100 million total on jersey sponsors this season. Major League Baseball teams will be allowed to sell jersey patches starting next season.
Majka noted that the team has worked with TRIA in the past, including for the Wild’s medical staff, and having a Minnesota-based sponsor was important to the franchise. He said that while the revenue is important to the teams, they also sought to strike a balance aesthetically, stopping well short of the multiple uniform sponsor patches seen in Europe.
“I know it was really important to the league and the players association that we did this in a classy, understated way, and I think we’ve achieved just that,” Majka said.
As part of the Monday announcement, the team and TRIA presented a $10,000 check to DinoMights, an urban youth hockey league which introduces children to the game and works with them off the ice through long-term mentoring.