The National Basketball Association is set to break new ground for major league sport in the US by trialling the use of sponsor-branded jerseys for the 2016 and 2017 NBA All-Star Games, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper said the NBA is planning to put a 3.25-inch-by-1.6-inch patch with the logo of Korean automotive company Kia Motors on the upper left chest of player jerseys for the two games.
The agreement is part of an advertising deal between NBA media rights holder Turner Sports and Kia Motors America, with the branded jerseys also set to be made available for retail sale.
“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a number of years,” Emilio Collins, executive vice-president of global marketing partnerships for the NBA, said.
Collins added that the All-Star initiative is to be evaluated as a trial run ahead of a possible move for jersey sponsorship in NBA regular season play. “We continue to work on that beyond All-Star, with all the considerations we have to factor in,” he said.
US major leagues have traditionally shied away from the concept of jersey branding, but it is an idea that is gaining increasing prominence through the rise of Major League Soccer, which allows its clubs to sell shirt sponsorship.
The 2016 NBA All-Star Game will be held on February 14 in Toronto, with the 2017 event set for Charlotte.