By Ian Oland
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly met with the media on Thursday to reflect on the one-year anniversary of the NHL suspending its 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The two executives celebrated the league’s accomplishments during that time and looked forward to the future.
“We completed a CBA extension, we negotiated a new US media rights agreement, and we signed 13 new corporate partners with the league,” a proud Bettman said. “We created new assets – the helmet decals, the virtual slot ads, the division sponsors — to help our clubs retain 100 million dollars in revenues.”
Bettman said that the temporary helmet ads, which were previously reported as only a one year experiment, are likely here to stay.
“Obviously, certain [sponsorship opportunities] we unleashed into these unique circumstances with empty buildings such as tarps and bigger signage behind the benches and the edge wrap, that doesn’t work when people are in the building,” Bettman said. “So the focus by definition has to be on the virtual signage or the virtual placement on the blue line, and the helmet stickers. I think it’s more likely than not, we’ll continue to see those. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re on a slippery slope, but in these challenging times, particularly economically, we’ve been focused on doing the best we can in terms of league rules and what opportunities financially can be presented.
“We did — don’t hold me to these numbers — the [new opportunities] this season we presented clubs to provide their business partners with over 100 million dollars in total value,” Bettman added. “Based on the economic climate, that’s not an insubstantial number. That’s not insubstantial in any climate. I think we’re going to take a really big look at it, but the helmet stickers haven’t been a big distraction at all and are effective from an advertising perspective. That coupled with slot virtual, I could see moving forward.”
The NHL first announced ads would replace team logos on helmets in late December. The 2.25” x 3.75” decals were positioned on the left and right sides of buckets.
“NHL exec told me teams don’t consider this ‘new-found money’”, TSN’s Rick Westhead tweeted. “Helmet ads will be given to some sponsors as ‘make goods’ for empty buildings.”
According to SportsLogos.net, it only took two weeks for every team to fill their inventory.
The Washington Capitals were one of the first NHL teams to announce their helmet sponsor, turning to Capital One — the same company that purchased their building name rights.
During the call, Bettman also reflected on what his year was like personally.
“In some respects, the year has gone by in a blink of an eye, because it’s hard to believe it’s been a year, and in other respects, it has seemed forever,” Bettman said. “We’ve been living this day-to-day. We’ve had to react to things on a day-to-day basis whether it’s positive tests, contact tracing, postponing games and then rescheduling them. We were dealing with the here and now. We managed to do a lot under these circumstances.”
He added, “It’s hard to believe that we’re still at this for a year and we’re still not done. Yes, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but this isn’t a time to let our guard down or lose our vigilance.”
Headline photo via the @Capitals
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