Phoenix Mercury Ink WNBA-Leading Jersey Patch Sponsor Deal

Less than a month from the start of the WNBA season, the Phoenix Mercury have inked a new multiyear jersey patch deal with venture capital firm Cleveland Avenue.

The unique partnership will be the first rotating patch in the league’s history as Cleveland Avenue will present a new partner in its portfolio each year. Partake Foods, a women-led natural food company, will be the first brand to take up real estate on the jersey with the left shoulder badge starting this season.

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The Mercury declined to speak about terms of the deal, but it’s considered the most lucrative jersey patch deal ever in the WNBA. The Mercury will receive about $3 million per year, according to a source familiar with the deal. It’s the latest pricey jersey patch deal for the W after the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces recently inked a multimillion-dollar deal with Ally Financial (NYSE: ALLY).

“We [often] talk about the Suns and the Mercury being on the same pedestal,” Suns and Mercury CEO Josh Bartelstein said in an interview. “But for that to happen, you have to invest and care about the Mercury … When you care and invest, from our standpoint, people want to partner with you. This is a full circle moment.”

Phoenix was the first WNBA franchise to secure a branded-jersey deal in 2009 when the league first allowed teams to sell front of jersey advertising. Now the team is slated to be the first to partner with a Black-owned company (Partake Foods) for a patch deal as it looks to continue to be one of the premier franchises in the league.

Player 15 Group, the parent company for the Suns and Mercury, decided to pivot last year when its marketing partnership with PayPal expired. While the Suns re-upped their jersey patch deal with the digital payments company, the team’s brain trust went to market with its WNBA team separately and fetched its biggest deal to date.

“We just want to keep pushing things forward,” Bartelstein said. “With Mat [Ishbia] now the steward of the Mercury, we have set lofty goals for what we want to do, and we’re hitting them. We’re just getting started for where we can take this thing.”

The jersey patch will get more local views, too, as the Suns and Mercury recently inked a TV deal that gives nearly 3 million homes across Arizona access to their games. That’s good news for Partake Foods, which looks to expand its consumer base with the added visibility.

“This will do wonders for our brand awareness and help more consumers know about the product and grow the business at retail,” Partake Foods founder Denise Woodard said in an interview. “There’s also synergies between [us] and the Mercury in how much we care about our communities, inclusivity and lifting up underrepresented groups.”

Cleveland Avenue, one of the principal owners of arena naming rights partner Footprint, is among the leading investors in Partake Foods, which was founded in 2016. The lifestyle consumer brand investor recently announced a wider fan experience, artificial intelligence-led partnership with the Suns and Mercury.

The Mercury patch is the latest in a string of news for Ishbia, who has been busy since he bought the Suns and Mercury for a record $4 billion in 2022. The Mercury are planning to host the 2024 WNBA All-Star Game in July while the team continues to build a new training facility. The Suns’ new G League affiliate will also make its debut later this year.

The Mercury open the 2024 season on the road against the Aces on May 14.

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