Emirates Said to Be in Talks for Bundle of NBA Jersey Ads

  • NBA is selling advertising on jerseys for the first time
  • Dubai-based airline sponsors top soccer teams, Formula 1

The Emirates Group is in preliminary talks to sponsor jersey patches for a number of National Basketball Association teams, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

Allowing advertising on uniforms is a new initiative for the NBA. People familiar with the league and team operations say the sponsorships are expected to generate $150 million in total revenue a year. The three-year pilot program starts in the 2017-18 season.

A deal with the NBA would allow Emirates to put its name on a 2.5-inch square patch on the left shoulder of the jerseys. It’s not clear how many of the league’s 30 teams the company is looking to sponsor. The Dubai-based aviation company flies to the following NBA cities: Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Toronto.

The NBA declined to comment. Emirates didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Philadelphia 76ers are the only NBA team to have secured a jersey sponsor. In May, the team announced that StubHub would pay $5 million a year for the uniform real estate.

The Emirates bundle won’t include LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers, according to people familiar with the discussions. The people asked to remain anonymous because the talks are not public.

Jersey sponsorships are standard in global soccer but somewhat controversial in the U.S., where most uniforms are free of corporate logos. Major League Soccer teams have jersey sponsors. So does the WNBA.

Emirates already sponsors the jerseys for several of soccer’s biggest teams, including Arsenal, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. The company sponsors tennis’s U.S. Open and French Open, the Formula 1 racing series and a number of golf tournaments around the world.

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