There will be a new logo on the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ jerseys when they take the court next season: the Goodyear wingfoot logo.
The tire company, founded and headquartered in Akron, Ohio, signed a multiyear deal to be on the team’s jerseys. All-Star forward LeBron James was born and currently lives in Akron.
“Every Akron kid grew up seeing the Wingfoot in the sky on the blimp and feeling pride in our community,” James said in a statement Monday. “There is something special for me personally having that logo on the Cavs uniform.”
Terms of Goodyear’s deal with the Cavs were not disclosed.
The wingfoot will always be yellow on the jersey, but it will have a blue outline on the white jersey and a yellow outline on the white jersey.
“We go together like peanut butter and jelly,” Cavaliers CEO Len Komoroski said. “It makes sense that we partnered with such a respected worldwide leader that is located in our backyard.”
“Even growing up being a Cardinals fan and watching baseball and football, you always see Goodyear,” Cavaliers coach Ty Lue said. “They’re always affiliated with all sports. For us I think it’s a good thing.”
Because the Cavaliers are one of the highest-profile teams in the league, Goodyear will get plenty of exposure.
“I think initially [it was hard to accept] just because growing up you’re so used to seeing just the classic jersey,” said Cavs shooting guard Iman Shumpert. “At first I wasn’t taking to it or positive about it. I didn’t like it. But seeing how they’re doing it, understanding why they’re doing it and me, I kind of got the best of both words — I got to play in a jersey without it and I guess I’ll be one of the first ones to play with it.”
The logo’s presence in clear view on television while the Cavaliers play will be worth $7 million to $10 million a year, estimates Eric Smallwood of Apex Marketing Group, a sponsorship evaluation firm. Including video games, trading cards and social media, the advertising value could approach $30 million annually, Smallwood said.
“We always want to keep Goodyear top of mind for the consumer and making moves like this is critical for our business,” said Goodyear’s director of marketing, Seth Klugherz.
Thirteen months ago, the NBA approved of teams signing a company to put its 2.5-by-2.5-inch logo on jerseys in the upper-left corner, beginning with the 2017-18 season. Although the space has been projected by commissioner Adam Silver to be collectively worth $100 million annually, being the first North American major sports league to sell a space for a logo on a game uniform hasn’t proved easy.
“We all came to market at the same time with the ability to sell these rights,” said the Cavaliers chief revenue officer, Brad Sims. “Outside of our arena rights, these are the most significant rights available. For us, it was less about the final number and more about the fit.”
Less than one-quarter of NBA teams have signed deals so far. Teams that have signed deals include the Philadelphia 76ers (StubHub), Sacramento Kings (Blue Diamond), Boston Celtics (GE), Brooklyn Nets (Infor) and Utah Jazz (Qualtrics).
As with all jersey logo deals, jerseys sold at the national level will not have the corporate logo on them, but the team can sell ones in their official stores and at their arenas that do.
Goodyear is not the official tire of the NBA (that designation belongs to Kumho), but that category was not protected in this case. Protected sponsors include broadcast partners (ESPN, ABC and Turner), Spalding (the official ball) and Tissot (the official timekeeper).
The move coincides with Nike taking over as the official apparel provider of uniforms. No Cavaliers player, at least at this time, has a deal with the tire company.
Goodyear’s highest-profile sponsorships include the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, the College Football Playoff and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It is most famous for its blimp, which flies over sporting events.
Goodyear has played a key role in professional basketball in the United States in the past. In 1937, 13 companies paid players in a league called the National Basketball League. The Akron Goodyear Wingfoots won the first title that season. In 1949, NBL teams became part of the new NBA as part of a merger.
The Wingfoots’ jerseys had the Goodyear name and logo on them.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.