First reported by Terry Lefton of Sports Business Daily and then confirmed by sentient SEO bot Darren Rovell, Under Armor will make MLB’s on-field uniforms beginning in 2020 as part of a partnership with Fanatics. Lefton reports that this ends the partnership that baseball has with Nike and Majestic:
“Starting in the spring of ’20, all jerseys would feature UA branding, while Fanatics will gain broad apparel rights across MLB, with an exception being headwear that will remain with New Era. Fanatics getting such all-encompassing rights suggests a new model for sports licensing in the U.S., one other properties will surely scrutinize. Industry sources said MLB President of Business & Media Bob Bowman recently presented the new apparel deal to MLB ownership, which approved it during a conference call last week.
…the Nike swoosh has been on the under-layer and neckline of most baseball players since ’09. But as currently envisioned, the two longtime business partners will be without MLB licenses following the ’19 season. While a Fanatics spokesperson would not comment on the deal, he said flatly, “We are not buying Majestic.’’ Spokespeople for both MLB and UA offered no comment. An official announcement of the rights deal, which will mark UA’s first uniform deal among the major American pro sports leagues, is expected after the World Series…
Details of the deal are scarce, though sources said the deal was largely orchestrated by Fanatics and that MLB felt UA was a more suitable on-field brand.
Fanatics will also gain right to get more creative with the fan gear they create. Additionally, with a new apparel partnership comes the idea of new uniform cuts and designs. While Under Armor gets very creative with their uniform branding in college football, it’ll be interesting to see what they’re able (and given the rope) to do, if anything, with some of the more traditional baseball clubs.