Major League Baseball, Nike and Fanatics on Friday announced a 10-year partnership that crowns Nike the league's official uniform and footwear supplier, which encompasses on-field uniforms including baselayers, game-day outerwear and training apparel, starting in the 2020 season.
The deal sounds just like one announced two years ago by MLB, Fanatics and Under Armour. Last May, Sports Business Journal reported that Under Armour backed out in order to save $50 million, in a year when slumping sales later led the company to slash its global workforce. Under Armour didn't immediately return Retail Dive's request for comment.
In its own press release, Nike said it will continue as an official MLB sponsor, and, as part of the new agreement, will also partner with all 30 teams for marketing. Fanatics, meanwhile, remains the partner in charge of manufacturing and distributing MLB's licensed fan gear, according to the league's release.
The major league contract, which replaces the uniform supplier deal now held by Majestic, seemed like a big coup for Under Armour, a chance to add to the ubiquity of its logo on America's fields of dreams.
In 2017, four months after teaming up with Under Armour to take over the MLB business, Fanatics took over Majestic from VF Corp., effectively taking Majestic out of play for any deal. Now, though, instead of Under Armour, it will be the Nike swoosh sewn into players' uniforms. In fact, Under Armour is apparently losing some business in the switch, as it has been supplying official MLB baselayer since 2000, according to Retail Dive's previous report. But perhaps Under Armour will be content to trade the diamond for the stars: The news that Nike will take over its deal came on the same day Under Armour announced that it will design spacesuits for the crew and passengers of billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceflight company.
It remains to be seen how and when that takes off. For now, it won't take a telescope to see the Nike swoosh added to yet more professional sport uniforms. Last year, for example, the brand forged another 10-year deal with the NFL, and added to its athlete roster (which Nike noted Friday includes endorsements from more than 500 major league and minor league baseball players) with a more controversial — and impactful — one with social justice activist and former quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
While the baseball substitution suggests some amount of back-room drama, the logistics appear to remain smooth. The factory that has been making the official baseball uniforms under the Majestic label at some point will simply swap that out with the Nike logo, reports the Lehigh Valley Morning Call.