The Philadelphia 76ers’ new landmark partnership with StubHub will mean far more than a jersey sponsorship — including a key benefit in New Jersey: the prospect of bringing a company with a Silicon Valley pedigree to the team’s planned innovation lab in Camden.The incubator space, set to open later this year as part of the Sixers’ 125,000-square-foot training complex and headquarters in the city, will count StubHub among those that will advise entrepreneurs. For the San Francisco-based online ticket marketplace, it’s a chance to impact the business community in South Jersey and Philadelphia.
“Being headquartered in Silicon Valley, where a lot of these companies sort of come to life and grow and mature, I think we can bring a unique perspective,” Geoff Lester, head of partnerships and business development for StubHub, said in an interview. “We’ve got a lot of experience in working with startups and working with young companies in our office, so we’re thrilled to be a part of it and think we can help.”
Formally unveiled Monday morning, the partnership calls for StubHub’s logo to be featured on the front left of the NBA team’s game jerseys starting in the 2017-2018 season. It is the first jersey patch sponsorship among the major four sports leagues in U.S. history, following the NBA board of governors’ approval last month of a three-year pilot program to do so.
Terms were not disclosed, but Bloomberg reported that StubHub agreed to pay $5 million a year for a 2.5-by-2.5-inch patch with its logo on it, citing an unnamed league official with knowledge of the deal.
“Our partnership with StubHub continues to generate progressive and forward-thinking platforms created to improve the fan experience and advance our industry,” Scott O’Neil, Sixers CEO, said in a prepared statement. “The essence of our relationship with StubHub is our shared culture and ambition to innovate, which drives us to reimagine traditional partnership activation and continually ask, ‘what if?’”
Earlier this year, the Sixers announced StubHub as their official ticketing partner and launched a new platform to give their fans “unparalleled access to primary and secondary ticket inventory with a seamless user and purchase experience.” The new platform launches next season.
The relationship between the organizations goes back about three years, Sixers’ Chief Revenue Officer Chris Heck said. He noted that the latest step in the relationship, the jersey sponsorship, was part of an effort to “keep the integrity of the brand of the Sixers, but highlight it or emphasize it with a complementary brand that actually was integrated in our business.”
“So if you look at some of the different endorsements, whether it’s professional tennis or professional golf, and how some of those elite athletes are integrated into a brand that may be on their sleeve or on their chest, some of them make a lot of sense,” Heck said. “And we think StubHub and the Sixers having one combined platform in ticketing makes a lot of sense to be on our jersey as well.”
The Camden facility and incubator space, which is set to open late this year, will give five area entrepreneurs free office space. Along with StubHub, it will give the tenants access to advisers from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, venture capital firms and organizations such as DraftKings, NextStage, Techstars and DreamIt.
“StubHub being involved and being an adviser as a business leader — not only in this country but in the world — makes a lot of sense because that’s what we’re looking to do: bring in the next great entrepreneur and the future business leaders of not only Philadelphia, but this country,” Heck said.