WNBA, Boost Mobile Partnership Means Stability

by August 23, 2011

by Ben York / @bjyork

Earlier this week, the WNBA and Boost Mobile announced a landmark multiyear marketing partnership that will make Boost Mobile the first leaguewide marquee partner of the WNBA.

Here are some quick facts on the deal:

– As the marquee partner of the WNBA, Boost Mobile will be the league’s most prominent marketing partner and will be tied closely to the WNBA brand on a national level.

– Boost Mobile will also be featured through WNBA national and local marketing activities throughout the life of the partnership. Furthermore, the Boost Mobile brand will be prominently featured on the front of the game jerseys of ten WNBA teams, including Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, New York Liberty, Seattle Storm, Tulsa Shock, and Washington Mystics (Phoenix Mercury has a deal with Verizon, San Antonio Silver Stars has a deal with AT&T).

– The jerseys will mark the first time the WNBA has had a league partner with jersey branding with multiple WNBA teams throughout the season other than adidas, the league’s official outfitter. Boost Mobile will also have a strong presence in these ten teams’ arenas, where its brand will be displayed on courts and pole pads.

– Official figures haven’t been disclosed, but some have estimated the deal to be worth in excess of eight-figures over several years. In short, it likely will be the most lucrative sponsorship deal in WNBA history.

– The deal now gives the WNBA 15 corporate marketing partners.


“Our partnership is a watershed moment for the WNBA, one that underscores the tremendous growth of our league and women’s basketball over the past 15 years.” WNBA president, Laurel Richie.

Not unlike other breaking news in regards to the WNBA, this announcement was, in large part, ignored by the majority of mainstream sports media.

Again, nothing new.

It’s too bad, really, because this is the single most important partnership deal in the history of the league and its implications are far reaching both to the WNBA itself as well as the NBA.

Boost Mobile’s investment in the WNBA shows confidence, strength, reliability, and trust that the league is here to stay. In fact, this deal is a major blow to those whose life’s passion is wanting the WNBA to fold. Case in point: In a post on Grantland last month, Bill Simmons offered his ideas on how to fix the NBA lockout – one of them called for the end of the WNBA.

“Canceling the WNBA after this season. You can’t complain about losing money with the NBA after you just spent 15 years funding a women’s league that proved pretty emphatically by about Year 8 that it can’t make money. That’s like saying, “We need to sell our house and move into a cheaper one … but I’m keeping the yacht I never should have bought!”

Okay, Bill, we get that you aren’t fan of the league. But if the WNBA’s product wasn’t valuable or didn’t have a solid, profitable return on investment, why in the world would Boost Mobile pump millions of dollars into it? Just for the heck of it? Because they’re bored?

The fact that a deal of this magnitude was finalized (with a professional women’s sports league no less) while the economy rapidly declines is nothing short of remarkable. It’s the quintessential example of how far the WNBA has come in its 15 years and exemplifies a longstanding commitment to growth and sustainability in the future.

While many continue to unfairly criticize the WNBA for “leaching” off the NBA and for contributing to the NBA’s financial decline, this landmark deal is a giant step towards permanently silencing those critics and detractors. There’s no doubt that Boost Mobile is a fine partner to start with, but the greatest impact of the deal could ultimately be measured by what what happens next.

Marketing guru and WNBA president Laurel Richie certainly won’t stop here; it’s precisely why David Stern hired her. The question now becomes: What other corporate sponsors and/or partners will align themselves with the WNBA? And, perhaps more importantly, what will the financial benefits be to the future growth and self-sustainability of the league?

In 2009, when the Phoenix Mercury announced their deal with LifeLock that would feature the company’s logo on the team’s jersey, it was met with a mix of praise, backlash and criticism. However, since that time, more corporate sponsors have aligned themselves with multiple WNBA teams after seeing the benefits both from a financial and marketing standpoint. Now, virtually every organization in the league is looking to have a “team sponsor.”

Agreeably, in a perfect world, the WNBA wouldn’t need corporate sponsors or marketing partners to rely on. In that same perfect world, I’d look like Justin Timberlake.

Sadly, neither one is very realistic.

If the price of a thriving league involves a few more corporate logos on WNBA uniforms, I’m all for it.