Sphere patch on a Knicks jersey.
Source: MSG Sports | Sphere Entertainment
The New York Knicks are keeping it in the family for their next jersey patch sponsor.
Madison Square Garden Sports announced Tuesday that Sphere Entertainment will become the NBA team’s official jersey patch partner for the 2023-2024 season. The patch will debut Wednesday night when the Knicks tip off the season against the Celtics at the Garden.
Both companies are owned by James Dolan, who serves as the executive chairman of Madison Square Garden Sports and Sphere. Dolan’s newest venture, the Sphere, a $2.3 billion immersive entertainment space in Las Vegas, debuted in September.
Terms of the jersey patch deal were not disclosed.
“The MSG family of companies has an unrivaled portfolio of premium assets, and we are committed to ensuring that the strength of our brands and unique global reach continue to benefit one another in powerful ways,” David Hopkinson, president & COO of MSG Sports, said in a statement.
The Sphere logo will go on all Knicks game jerseys, practice jerseys and warm-up shirts. In addition, they will appear on all jerseys sold at Madison Square Garden’s in-arena retail locations and online.
The NBA’s jersey patch sponsor program kicked off during the 2017-2018 season and has been an important source of revenue for many clubs. The NBA’s top three jersey sponsorships generated roughly $100 million last season in total, led by the Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, and Los Angeles according to Sportico.
The unusual deal involving two companies with the same owner follows a similar agreement by the Miami Heat earlier this month. The team signed a jersey partnership with Carnival Cruise Lines, both owned by Micky Arison.
The Knicks were one of just four teams that didn’t have a jersey sponsor last season.
For the first five seasons, the Knicks were partners with website hosting and building company Squarespace. The company reportedly paid an estimated $15 million to $16 million per season for the 2.5-inch by 2.5-inch real estate on the Knicks jersey, according to Sports Business Journal.
“Squarespace has been an excellent partner, but we do expect to see some substantial increase when we renew or find a new partner in that space,” Andrew Lustgarten, former MSG Sports CEO, said during a May 2022 earnings call. “It’s very important who the partner is, is close to our identity, so we’re very thoughtful about who would come on our jerseys,” he added.
Dolan reportedly was shopping around the jersey patch rights for $30 million, according to SBJ.
Patrick Rishe, sports director at Washington University at St. Louis, said the deal with Sphere represents a win for the Knicks.
“This is an amazing opportunity for the Knicks who are for once, doing something outside the box and innovative,” he said.
Bob Dorfman, sports marketing analyst and creative director at Pinnacle Advertising, echoed that sentiment.
“The Sphere is the entertainment entity of the future, the attention it’s getting is spectacular, it’s a mind boggling venue. The Knicks certainly could use the attention and clout of a facility like that,” he said.