MLB releases final details of sponsor fixes; Possible helmet decals for the 2022 post-season

Sponsor patches on Major League Baseball jerseys will arrive in 2023, but new final league details show what they’ll look like. In this new referral space are details on helmet decals.

For several years, MLB viewed jersey patches and helmet decals as a form of new inventory space for sponsorships. In 2019, as part of the Herculean effort to stage the London Series between the Yankees and Red Sox, the league experimented with the concept with communications giant Mitel as the helmet sponsor.

With the NBA for years now in sponsorship jersey patches, Major League Baseball has worked out the details of patch sizes, where they are, and when we might see them.

Depending on the league, individual clubs can begin making sponsorship deals for the patches from 2023. The agreed initial size will be 4 inches by 4 inches and can be placed on the right or left sleeve of the uniform on the ground. At a minimum, all referral partners must remain consistent for at least one year. Only one design that will be used for this season will be used – no other designs will be allowed.

In a key aspect of ensuring designs don’t get out of control, the league and MLB Players’ Association must approve any planned fixes. To this end, certain categories of the sponsorship space will be prohibited. They include alcohol, betting and media brands.

Consumers, they will have the option of having the patches on the shirts they buy, or not. Team stores will sell authentic jerseys with sponsor patches at the ballpark. Replica jerseys sold by retailers will come without them.

As each club will enter into their own sponsorship deal, all 30 of them may not have deals in place on opening day next year. One would expect teams from big brands and big markets to close deals more easily than others.

While jersey patches won’t arrive until 2023, according to the league, helmet decals could arrive as early as the 2022 playoffs. Unlike sponsor patches, helmet decals will be a league sponsor.

The value of sponsor patches could be a boon for many clubs. Although the pace of play was a drawback to the game, in this case the static nature of the player in the batter’s box and the pitcher on the mound will give a long impression time. Add the size of patches, which are considerably larger than those seen in other sports, and sponsor inventory space should experience higher rates.

For comparison, the current patch deal between the Los Angeles Lakers and South Korean food company Bibigo is $100 million over five years. Although it’s the high end of the spectrum, the NBA’s 2.5-by-2.5-inch patch fetches an average of $7-10 million league-wide.

With the larger size and increased impressions, MLB could see an overall average of between $450 million and $500 million per year for sponsor patches alone.

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