Split jersey sponsorship deals: Will major US sports leagues cash in with corporate partners?

Unique soccer deal could hint at future of jersey patches

As the major U.S. pro sports leagues begin to cash in on jersey sponsorship deals that were already popular in Europe, a unique agreement in the second-tier United Soccer League may hint at the future of the profitable trend.

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Rather than sell a single jersey sponsorship, the USL’s New Mexico United sold deals for both its home and away uniforms in a bid to boost revenue in an otherwise small corporate market, Front Office Sports reported. New York-based finance company KraneShares bought sponsorship rights for the away uniforms, while arts and entertainment company Meow Wolf acquired home uniform rights.

While the exact financial terms of each deal were not disclosed, both are in the six-figure range, New Mexico United CEO Peter Trevisani told the Albuquerque Business Journal. The deals were unveiled prior to New Mexico United’s inaugural season in the USL.

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Split jersey sponsorships aren’t an entirely new trend, especially overseas. Several European soccer clubs, including English Premier League organizations such as Arsenal and Southampton, have had home and away sponsors in years past.

However, the idea could gain traction as more sports teams land jersey partners.

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The NBA’s jersey patch program has been a popular concept among league organizations since its inception in 2016. At the start of the 2019-20 NBA season, 29 of the league’s 30 teams had a uniform sponsor, with the most lucrative deals worth upward of $20 million per season.

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To date, no NBA team has sold a split jersey sponsorship. Major League Soccer allows jersey patch deals and is set to permit a secondary patch on uniform sleeves for its 2020 season, Morning Consult reported last September.

Other leagues, such as the NFL and MLB, have yet to alter their policies. However, the trend is widely seen as a natural evolution for leagues looking for fresh revenue streams.

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