NEW YORK, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- First it was the playing arenas, next it may be players' jerseys.
The National Basketball Association this week indicated that it might become the first major American professional sports league to allow corporate branding on its players.
The NBA league office sent a memo to team owners earlier this week soliciting feedback on the idea.
The league wanted to give owners time to consider the proposal ahead of meetings scheduled at the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto on Sunday. If enough owners support the idea, it will move onto the agenda at the next owners meeting in April, where it must be approved by the Board of Governors.
Corporate logos or any other type of advertising have never before been allowed on primary player jerseys in any of the four major North American sports leagues. Branding has been permitted, though, on secondary jerseys like practice apparel or all-star uniforms.
At Sunday's game, players will wear jerseys that feature the logo of Kia Motors -- a primary sponsor for Turner Broadcasting's coverage of all-star weekend.
While corporate branding on jerseys might be new to the four major sports leagues, it's not too foreign a concept to the NBA. It's women's league, the WNBA, has been allowing advertising on player jerseys since 2009.
ESPN reported that the league's proposal allows each team to feature one corporate logo on the jerseys starting for the 2017-18 season, and each deal can last no longer than three years. The logo, under the proposal, would go on the players' upper-left chest and could be no larger than 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches.
Each team would strike its own deal, and each club would keep 50 percent of the money it receives from the sponsorship. The other 50 percent would go into a revenue-sharing pot to be split among the rest of the league. Players would also share in the proceeds.
In 2011, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speculated that jersey branding could be worth roughly $100 million per season -- which would be even more than teams get from selling naming rights to their arenas.
Corporate sponsorship on arenas and stadiums became commonplace during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and typically earn franchises around $20-$50 million per year.