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Panthers sell rink naming rights to Lexus, team president wants ads on jerseys

Apr 12, 2011, 1:50 PM EST

Philadelphia Flyers v Florida Panthers Getty Images

Advertising is pervasive in almost every level of sports (and life, really). To some extent, as a consumer society, we should be used to ads filtering through to unexpected places. Yet there are some “sacred cows” left in sports, including uniforms for most North American professional teams.

Whenever you see the seemingly limitless logos that adorn the sweaters worn by European hockey teams, it seems like a scary crystal ball for the future of the NHL.

The movement toward that future seems almost unstoppable, especially when you see stories like these. Not satisfied with playing at the BankAtlantic Center, the Florida Panthers now skate at the Lexus Rink at the BankAtlantic Center. What’s next: the Dasani Zamboni preparing the Lexus Rink at the BankAtlantic Center?

(Uh oh, I hope I didn’t plant a seed.)

The most interesting/horrifying thing about this story, though, is Panthers team president Michael Yormark’s comments about placing advertisements on NHL jerseys. Here’s what he told Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy.

“Obviously, the jerseys are the next great frontier, but obviously there needs to be a lot of thought that goes into it, in terms of how you want to market the jersey as it relates to sponsorship. I don’t think that we want to get close to what NASCAR has done. That’s not to say what they do is wrong, because it works within their sport and culture. I don’t think that works in the National Hockey League … but I do think there’s an opportunity for some branding on the jerseys. If you go to Europe, it’s pretty common.”

And it’s also overkill, looking very much like that NASCAR aesthetic.

“Absolutely, and I don’t think we want to go in that direction,” Yormark said in an interview last Friday. “But at some point, there will be a great debate about it, and at some point it may be strongly, strongly considered. And if it was, we’d take advantage of it.”

“The dollars that have been generated in European soccer with jersey sponsorships have been absolutely enormous,” he continued.

Obviously, such a move would create a tug-of-war between traditional owners/executives and more aggressive types. It’s hard to deny that sports are going in that direction, though.

For fans, it’s a bummer, although perhaps it’s about approach. Would logos on jerseys mean shorter commercial breaks? Cheaper tickets? Will there be any benefit at all?

Sadly, the answer is “probably not,” but such moves would make it a lot easier to digest. Yormark does make a good point in his comments to PD, remarking that it isn’t easy to be a losing team in a non-traditional market. Sometimes you have to be flexible and clever to make a buck in this situation, but hopefully the Panthers will turn back to Plan A again soon: winning.

  1. cjn728 - Apr 12, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    These short-sighted execs never stop amazing me. If the Panthers sell their shirt right for $1 million, the Wings, Rangers and Leafs will do the same for $5 million. Thus the Panthers are even further behind then they were.

    One of the smartest things I ever heard from a “big market” exec when a plan like this was hatched from a small market exet. “Whatever is good for you is better for us.”

    And it will widen the competitive gap. … Unless they pool the $. Good luck.

  2. bcjim - Apr 12, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    Some Euro leagues have players that look like Nascar cars they have so many ads on the uniforms. and not just jerseys…pants, helmets, socks, everything.

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