Over the course of about 40 hours this week, two of the most valuable team uniform assets in U.S. sports came off the market.
Monday afternoon, Swiss freight forwarder and logistics service provider Fracht Group was unveiled as the club’s new sleeve sponsor, replacing software and gamification firm Xmanna, whose multi-year agreement mysteriously disappeared after a single season in 2022.
That news was soon followed by the New York Yankees’ signing of Starr Insurance as the team’s first jersey patch sponsor, a deal that will run through 2031 at a reported price tag of about $25 million annually. No one publicly has registered an estimate of Fracht’s commitment, although Sports Business Journal reported it was three times the seven figures paid by its predecessor.
The reasons these two pieces of sleeve real estate are so valuable are vastly different, of course. Inter Miami is within a few days of officially introducing global soccer superstar Lionel Messi as the newest addition to its player roster, while the Yankees’ pinstripes are among the most historic and iconic uniforms in all of sports.
Each deal appears to be a smart brand marketing move for multiple reasons, including:
- Both buyers are large, international companies with the resources to fund, execute and activate such high-value partnerships.
- Both brands are low profile (Starr is best known as the former parent company of AIG when it was led by now 98-year-old Starr chairman Hank Greenberg) and can benefit from the visibility their sponsorships bring much more than a well-known company could
Even more importantly, the jersey logos are only one component of a larger partnership.
In addition to prominent signage at DRV PNK Stadium and throughout Inter Miami’s digital platforms, Fracht Group will work with the club on a “a range of environmental and social initiatives in collaboration with the Inter Miami CF Foundation,” according to the official announcement.
Starr, which has been the “official commercial insurance company” of the Yankees for the past five years, according to the deal press release, will become the “official presenting sponsor of the Yankees’ game-day lineup post on social media,” gain new outfield wall signage in front of both the home and visiting team bullpens at Yankee Stadium, and “will work closely with the New York Yankees Foundation on upcoming community initiatives in the New York metropolitan area.”
Whether these partnerships deliver a return on investment will be determined a) by the objectives of the two companies—which are publicly unknown for now—and b) how well the brands leverage their shiny new assets. But given the partners they have chosen—one built on over a century of tradition and the other building on the shoulders of an individual living legend—both have the potential to be among the best-performing sleeve deals of all time.