The New York Yankees are in the market for a company to serve as its jersey patch sponsor beginning in the 2023 season, the first time Major League Baseball will allow teams to sell space on their uniform sleeves.
The Yankees are working with Legends, a company it own a stake in, to manage the search. Chris Hibbs, president of Legends’ Global Partnerships division, said the Yankees are looking to sign a multi-year deal with a sponsor, but he declined to discuss the potential financial parameters.
Still, Hibbs noted that the Yankees have chosen not to have a naming rights deal for its iconic Yankee Stadium, so the organization is looking at the jersey patch as garnering what a stadium naming rights deal would be for a major sports franchise. The high water mark for stadium naming rights occurred late last year when the Los Angeles Lakers signed a 20-year deal with Crypto.com for a total that could exceed $700 million or $35 million per year.
“I would characterize the investment as a top-tier naming rights-type investment,” Hibbs said. “That’s fairly well known in North America, what a naming rights deal for a top-tier venue in a top-tier market goes for. We have those kinds of ambitions.”
MLB reportedly could generate a combined $350 million to $400 million annually through the sponsor patches for an average of up to $13.3 million per team. But the Yankees would likely get much more than the average considering their presence in the nation’s largest media and financial market, storied history (27 World Series titles) and current success as they have an MLB-best 61-26 record.
The Yankees are valued at $6 billion, according to Forbes, making them the second-most valuable franchise in the world behind the Dallas Cowboys ($6.5 billion). The MLB average franchise value is $2.07 billion.
“I would say from a value perspective, you’re talking about the most successful franchise in maybe global sports, certainly North American sports,” Hibbs said. “They’re recognized universally…They’re a fashion brand to some. They’re an iconic baseball team to others. Putting a brand on the pinstripes for the first time ever is a super unique opportunity.”
The Yankees and Dallas Cowboys founded Legends in 2008, with the company initially focused on running concessions and retail merchandising at their stadiums and other sports venues and entertainment complexes. Since then, Legends has become a major player in the sports business ecosystem and expanded to hospitality, sponsorships and numerous other areas.
Sixth Street, a multi-strategy investment firm with more than $60 billion of assets under management, acquired a majority stake in Legends last year in a deal that valued the company at $1.3 billion. The Yankees and Cowboys now own significant minority interests in Legends.
Legends’ Global Partnerships division, which was formed in February 2020, represents franchises, colleges and venues in naming rights deals, jersey sponsorships, real estate developments, events and other areas. The division’s clients include SoFi Stadium, home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Chargers; Allegiant Stadium, home to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders; and the University of Notre Dame.
For MLB’s jersey patches, Legends has agreed only to work with the Yankees, eschewing any overtures from other clubs. Hibbs is leading the Yankees’ assignment with colleagues Dan Migala, co-president and chief revenue officer of Legends Global Technology Solutions; Doug Smoyer, senior vice president at Legends Global Partnerships; and Chris Foy, executive vice president at Legends Global Partnerships. They will be partnering with several Yankees executives, including Michael J. Tusiani, the organization’s senior vice president of partnerships.
The patches will be 4-by-4 inches on the right or left sleeve of players’ uniforms. In April, the San Diego Padres became the first MLB club to announce a jersey patch, signing a contract with Motorola.
The NHL will allow jersey patches for the first time in the 2022-23 season, while the NBA has had jersey patches since 2017. Boardroom, a media company owned by Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant and longtime sports executive Rich Kleiman, reported late last year that the total value of the NBA patches for the 2021-22 season would be $225 million, up from the $100 million that league commissioner Adam Silver envisioned a few years earlier.
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