Last-place 76ers first NBA team to sell ad space on team jerseys

    (photo courtesy 76ers)

    (photo courtesy 76ers)

    The 76ers organization is defending its decision to become the first NBA team to put a corporate sponsor on its jerseys.

    A small logo from the ticket resale site StubHub will appear on the front left of players’ jerseys for the 2016-17 season.

    It’s perhaps no surprise that team officials are encountering some serious pushback from fans on Twitter. Some compared the jersey with the American flag — saying it should not be marred. Other fans said the advertising decision made them “absolutely sick,” among various others sentiments of dissatisfaction.

    Daniel Korschun, who teaches marketing at Drexel University, said the resistance is natural. Many Sixers fans have an emotional connection to their team’s basketball jersey and believe it should be a ad-free space

    “The fans really see this as the purest symbol of the team,” Korschun said.

    He said when you mix teams and brands, there’s going be some uneasiness.

    “Let’s say you love Pepsi, and you love the Sixers, and then Coke becomes a sponsor to the Sixers,” he said. “How do you react to that?”

    But to the 76er’s Chad Biggs, the agreement is good for everyone — including exposure for StubHub, which is owned by eBay. The company will pony up $5 million a year for the small rectangular patch. That revenue will be split between the team and the NBA. 

    “Sixers being at the forefront of this is a positive thing,” Biggs said. “It obviously is a new revenue stream for us, and that will benefit not only team, but also the fans.”

    Advertising on sports jerseys is popular in Europe, but it’s taken up until now for American teams to catch up. Drexel’s Korschun said it was only a matter of time.

    “Football fields, soccer fields and baseball fields are all surrounded with advertising, so this is really just the last bastion,” he said.

    Each of its past three years, the 76ers won fewer than 20 games. One fan wondered: Is StubHub their jersey sponsor to encourage people to buy tickets? Officials hope so. 

    “We feel that this is the right thing to do,” Biggs said. “I think it will greatly benefit us in the long run.”

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