MLB Inks 10-Year Uniform, Footwear Deal With Nike, Fanatics

Starting with the 2020 MLB season, Nike and Fanatics will serve as the league’s official uniform and footwear supplier of Major League Baseball. The agreement puts Nike-made product on players for all MLB games and Fanatics-made product on fans.

As part of the agreement for Nike to serve as the exclusive provider of on-field uniforms, the league will place the Nike Swoosh on uniforms and allow Nike to serve as the exclusive provider of baselayer gear, game-day outerwear and all training apparel for all 30 MLB clubs. Fanatics was granted broad consumer product licensing rights to manage the manufacturing and distribution of the Nike MLB Authentic Collection, as well as Nike and Fanatics fan gear, sold through the retail community, including MLB’s online shop and brick and mortar stores.

MLB says working with Fanatics will create a larger assortment of fan gear with an increased speed to market. MLB expects to distribute a wide range of jerseys, postseason apparel and “hot market” gear that captures the latest events from the field.

“Nike’s global brand and reputation as a leader in marketing and driving innovation makes them an ideal partner,” says Robert Manfred, Jr., MLB commissioner, in a statement. “In addition, Fanatics is a valuable partner who has proven to serve our fans with speed, agility and quality services. We’re very excited about the possibilities this unique arrangement provides us over the next decade.”

Nike will continue as an official MLB sponsor and continue to sponsor individual MLB players. “We’re thrilled to bring more innovation and creativity to Major League Baseball and the incredible athletes who play the game,” says Tom Peddie, vice president and general manager of Nike North America. “This is an exciting time for baseball and we look forward to partnering with MLB to grow the sport both across America as well as around the globe.”

Michael Rubin, Fanatics founder and executive chairman says joining forces with Nike shows the future model for licensed sports merchandise.

For the past 15 years, VF’s Majestic has produced the on-field uniforms for MLB. Earlier, MLB announced an agreement with Baltimore-based Under Armour to become the official uniform provider starting in 2020. That agreement was rumored to move to 2019, but in the end fell apart as Under Armour repositioned its business strategy. That shift opened the door for Nike to enter the fray.

Headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, Nike already serves as the official uniform provider for the NFL and NBA. Adidas currently serves as the official uniform provider for the NHL and MLS.

Nike has proven pivotal in recreating the on-court look of a number of NBA teams and creating a new model for home and away uniforms and league-wide alternate uniform programs. The NFL, however, has remained more traditional without major changes to its uniform program, even under Nike. It will be largely up to MLB and team owners to decide how much sway Nike has in recreating the aesthetic of teams across the league.

Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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