CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cavaliers will receive more than $10 million annually through a new partnership in which Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company will place its Wingfoot logo on new, Nike-designed team jerseys for the next three seasons.
The arrangement between the Cavs, Goodyear, and Turner Sports may be among the most lucrative in the NBA, according to sources with knowledge of the deal that was announced in a joint press conference Monday at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavs' payroll of roughly $130 million is the highest in the NBA and the franchise lost $40 million during its championship season in 2016, according to Forbes.
As part of the agreement, Turner, which includes TNT, the cable network that will carry the Cavaliers' playoff games in the Eastern Conference finals, will air free commercials featuring the Cavs and Goodyear and promote the partnership on various traditional and digital mediums.
Goodyear gets the highly coveted, and expensive, real estate on the Cavs' jerseys on the left shoulder/breast, opposite the Nike swoosh, beginning in the 2017-18 season. The team will sell jerseys and merchandise with the Wingfoot.
And the Cavs and Goodyear will donate $1 million to support STEM programs in Cleveland and Akron public schools.
The Wingfoot logo will be unveiled when Nike rolls out its new Cavs uniforms this summer. A source said the team's color scheme of wine, gold, and blue will not change as part of the design.
"The wingfoot (is) going to be opposite the swoosh, and they really do look beautiful together," Cavs general manager David Griffin said.
In April of 2016, the NBA announced a three-year pilot program in which teams could sell space on their jerseys to one advertiser beginning with the 2017-18 season.
Goodyear, which was founded in Akron in 1898, shares a birthplace with someone who is not only the most famous player on the Cavs, but one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet in LeBron James.
The Wingfoot is well known globally too, as it drapes the sides of the iconic Goodyear blimp.
Len Komoroski, chief executive officer for the Cavs, said a Cavs-Goodyear partnership was an example used by the NBA when jersey sponsorship permission was first granted, preceding any actual negotiations between the two organizations.
And Griffin said as Nike began meeting with the Cavs for the new uniform design, it was already drawing inspiration from Goodyear.
"Nike designers, from the beginning, when they were looking for their inspiration, they were looking at what is Cleveland, what is northeast Ohio," Griffin said. "Who is Akron? Who is Canton? And they wanted to know what their marketplace really was. And so they looked for inspiration in the organizations and the companies that built this great city.
"The very first one they looked at was Goodyear. That was really meaningful to us, because in the deck they showed us, Goodyear was in it," Griffin said. "They had no idea what we were doing. They had no idea we were talking to Goodyear."
In a news release, James said "every Akron kid grew up seeing the Wingfoot in the sky on the blimp and feeling pride in our community," and there "is something special for me personally about having that logo on the Cavs uniform." The tire company has also supported James' charitable foundation.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue called the partnership "a great thing."
"Akron-based company who I've always seen, even growing up being a Cardinals fan and watching baseball and football, you always see Goodyear," Lue said. "They're always affiliated with all sports."
The Cavs and Goodyear went to some length Monday to play up the Wingfoot's history in professional basketball. The Akron Goodyear Wingfoots played in the National Basketball League, a precursor to the NBA, and won the league's first championship in 1937.
"Why would Goodyear do this?" Richard Kramer, Goodyear president, chairman, and CEO, asked rhetorically. "And outside of the opportunity to be a partner with a world-class organization like the Cleveland Cavaliers, in one word the answer to the question is 'connection.' Connection between Goodyear and basketball, the connection between Goodyear and the Cavs, and the connection between Goodyear and our community here in northeast Ohio."
Griffin also said the new Goodyear partnership was "deeply meaningful" to him on a personal level. His mother was born in Akron and his grandfather worked for Goodyear Aerospace for 30 years.
"The ashtray on our table was a Wingfoot," he said. "In my family, if you were truly successful you were blimp worthy."...Read more