The Washington Mystics have announced that they will be putting their new sponsorship partner’s name on the front of their jerseys in a move that is not all that surprising.
The new jerseys, which were revealed Thursday, will now bear the name Inova Health System across the middle. The Mystics actual logo, which is last year’s logo with a color change, has been demoted to a small presence in the top corner. The team colors are now red and blue.
The jerseys aren’t particularly attractive. The team’s identity is no longer prominent and with the sponsor’s name being so intrusive, they look like something the team would give away at the door, instead of selling for $59.99 at the team store.
For the Mystics, this could be a response to attendance woes. The number of fans in the seats at the Verizon Center has been rapidly declining, going from an estimated average of 16,202 in 2002 to 9,362 last year. While they’re still above the WNBA average, it’s not a good sign. The money that this partnership brings in could help.
It’s not the first time an area pro team has done this. Since 2008, the D.C. United jerseys have featured the Volkswagon symbol front and center, with the team’s crest getting second billing.
It’s also not a first for the WNBA. In 2009, the Phoenix Mercury became the first team to have a corporate logo adorn their jerseys. The Sparks, Storm, and Liberty all have jersey sponsors as well.
Those sponsorships didn’t seem to negatively affect sales. While they haven’t released specific numbers, the four sponsored teams held eight of the top 10 players in jersey sales last year. All of those teams were in the top five in overall team merchandise sales. Only time will tell if the Mystics can maintain their numbers also.
The real winner is Inova, who will now have fans become a walking billboard for their company. In addition to being featured on apparel, the marquee sponsorship also provides exposure to fans at games and through media coverage and television broadcasts. In addition, it makes the health care company the presenting partner of the Washington Mystics and Wizards Youth Basketball Camps.
The Wizards have yet to reveal their re-designed jerseys for next season. Is it possible that their uniforms will receive a similar fate? Anything can be bought -- for the right price.