An NBA team that has trouble putting butts in seats is now synonymous with a company that resells tickets people are trying to get rid of. The Philadelphia 76ers said Monday that it signed a jersey sponsorship deal with StubHub, the secondary ticket vendor that also handles primary ticketing for the team. The deal's financial details were not disclosed, but a report from ESPN put the price tag at $5 million per season.
"Our brands are now inextricably linked," Sixers CEO Scott O'Neill said in a statement Monday.
The fruits of the deal, the first of its kind in NBA history, will first be visible on players' chests during the 2017-18 NBA season, the first year of a three-year trial period the league announced earlier this year that will see NBA jerseys covered in sponsors' logos. Each team is responsible for securing its own sponsors.
The move deepens a partnership forged last year, when StubHub announced it was going to handle both primary and secondary ticket sales for the Sixers. That deal allowed the company to gather the email addresses of possible fans, a big deal for a team with one of the lowest average attendance rates in the NBA.
The team's performance at the gate is the result of its on-court play. The 76ers have lost a historic number of games over the past several years. But management says it has a long-term plan to accumulate young, talented players it acquires through top draft picks. This season, the team went 10-72. Over the past three years, the team has compiled a winning percentage of just 23 percent.
A study of Nielsen TV ratings data, game attendance and merchandise sales data conducted by Forbes found that the Sixers have one of the least-engaged fan bases in the NBA. In an attempt to overcome that, the Sixers and Stubhub introduced dynamic pricing to its tickets last season, and made it possible for fans to buy primary and secondary market tickets as part of the same order. That helped bend the team's attendance upward slightly. The Sixers had the third-worst average attendance in the NBA this season, with 14,881 people per game; last season, the team attracted an average of 13,940 people per home game.
Of course, by the time the Stubhub patches are visible on Sixers jerseys, the team could very well be a hot ticket again. The team is all but guaranteed a top-three pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and a prized prospect, Dario Saric, will reportedly be joining for the 2016-17 season.