As part of the proposal to begin the season, Major League Baseball and the Players Association are expected to agree to place corporate advertising on uniforms in 2020 and 2021.
With no fans in the stands to gawk at dozens of tacky advertisements plastered around ballparks, MLB will instead plug those endorsements onto baseball uniforms. It’s a surefire way to create a source of revenue for clubs to bridge the financial gap the coronavirus pandemic has produced. Clubs shouldn’t have a hard time finding partners to sign on to this deal.
This concept has already been adopted by the NBA — which boasts brands like StubHub, Goodyear and several others. It can be done tastefully, with a color-theme that matches team uniforms. It can be placed in an unobtrusive space, similar to where the Nike swoosh was introduced near the chest area on MLB jerseys.
The new addition of advertisements may irk traditional baseball fans when the jarring sight of pitchers like Max Scherzer or Jacob deGrom, players who drip with cutthroat competitiveness on the mound, suddenly have a Budweiser or W.B. Mason patch on their sleeves or necklines. But as revered as baseball uniforms are, the sport was never about making a fashion statement. Players, to this day, receive fines for bringing custom colorful gloves, cleats or bats to the field, unless it’s an MLB-approved holiday like Mother’s Day or the Fourth of July. MLB rules prohibit “alterations, writing or illustrations other than as authorized” to any part of a player’s uniform.
The advertising proposal, if passed, would run through the 2021 season, and then the CBA expires. Ad patches on jerseys may only be guaranteed for the next two years, but if it proves successful for clubs, they’ll likely become a permanent fixture in baseball.