NBA Arena Advertising



When considering advertising in NBAarenas, people may automatically think about simple ads on the Jumbotron or small ads located near the numerous scoreboards. However, advertising in these arenas has really taken off recently and has become much more complex than an everyday hanging banner.

Today, advertising in NBA arenas has gone so far as to even include ads, among other places, on the very post pads of the hoops being played on.One NBA team, the Miami Heat, has even transformed a huge chunk of their arena into an LED screen to project ads and promotions. A piece of advertising can literally be seen almost anywhere a person looks in an arena and new technology is
allowing advertisements to be as entertaining as possible.


The NBA boasts one of the best attendance records in sports. A captive audience is subject to your companies ads for 3 hours.

Arguably the biggest advantage of NBA arena advertising is the amount of spaces advertisements can be placed. One basket, for instance, is covered in various ads by different companies. In addition, an NBA game brings in an average of around 17,000 fans per game (ESPN, 2010). This obviously exposes thousands of fans in the arena directly toward various ads and sponsors. One advantage that the NBA has over the NFL is that the ribbon ads (that wrap around the entire interior of the arena and can double as scoreboards) run throughout the entire game including actual play. In the NFL, stadium ribbons are permitted to run ads only during breaks in the play (Vasquez, 2009).

Ad Spaces Within NBA Arenas

In 2008, the NBA opened up a new ad space, and allowed new areas of the stanchions of the baskets (from three feet above floor level up to the backboard) to be covered with ads (Lombardo, 2008).


Aside from advertisements on the basket, another hot spot for ads is the courtside. In 2009, the New York Knicks became the first NBA franchise to use new LED signs to portray their courtside ads.

According to Knicks and NBA officials, the LED signs allow for more customized courtside advertising inventory along with the ability for teams to tie all their scoreboard and ribbon-board LED down to court level, improving the in-game presentation (Lombardo, 2009). Said MSG Sports President Scott O’Neil, “The advantages are it allows us to drive revenue and offer full integration opportunities with our sponsors. But it allows us to better entertain fans as well.”

In comparison to DLP systems, Steve Hellmuth, executive vice president of operations and technology for the NBA, claimed LED systems are simply better (Lombardo, 2009). “The LED is thinner and more compact. The viewing angles are better, but just as important is that you can run game information and statistics, which makes it more valuable to advertisers because people will look at the signage more.”

The NBA has also experimented with advertising on backboards during games using a rear screen projection system that puts images on the glass (Lombardo, Lefton and Fisher, 2008).

According to the Miami Heat Group Corporate Partnership Overview, there are several different categories in which ad spaces fall into at their home court, AmericanAirlines Arena. The Overview lists 360 LED ring, corner stat boards, arena banners, tunnel signage and entitlement areas as options for the Arena Advertising/Signage category. Another category within the overview is Miami Heat signage. This consists of courtside signage, pole pad advertising, Heat TV replay wipes, Heat TV stat/clock sponsor, and scoreboard LED/identification. Concourse opportunities include high impact wall spectaculars, Q reflection mirrors in restrooms, kiosk displays, and concourse televisions. The last category for ads, Print Opportunities, consists of pocket schedules, tipoff magazines, Heat yearbook and cup holder inserts (Heat Group, 2010).

As listed above, the advertisement opportunities within an NBA arena are plentiful.


Another exciting way to advertise at NBA games is the remote control blimp. These usually include drop devices that can dispurse tickets, coupons, t-shits, or brochures.


LeBron James' image was torn off the Cleveland Cavaliers stadium December 7, 2010. Workers dismantled the 10-story iconic image of James on a mural in downtown Cleveland after it had dominated the city’s skyline for years, but it was removed after the superstar announced he was leaving the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat.

Every year, billions of consumers line up to pass through turnstile units in high traffic areas such as NBA games. For over 14 years, Entry Media has been offering companies an effective advertising vehicle to reach and literally touch consumers at these high traffic locations with their proven effective signage; Turnstile AdSleeve Armcover units. These high quality custom-made sleeves easily secure onto any sized turnstile arm and allow a company to insert an advertising message that people will see and touch as they walk through. A simple idea, yet market test have shown that consumers recall the turnstile message more than any other facility signage. In the latest market test conducted, 66.7% of respondents recalled the advertiser on the turnstiles. (DOmedia)
The AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat, announced March 22, 2011 that it has entered into a partnership with Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink. Through a one-year partnership, the AmericanAirlines Arena will offer Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink in its concession stands during all Arena events and help promote the beverage through Arena advertising. The energy drink is the latest business endeavor by the entrepreneurial Italian family whose name is synonymous with wealth and luxury. “Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink is proud to be an official partner of the AmericanAirlines Arena,” said Kenneth La Grave, President & CEO of Eagle Investment Group. "The AmericanAirlines Arena is a very valuable marketing asset that links very nicely with the unique style and high quality of Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink. We look forward to utilizing our partnership to enhance our brand presence in Miami with our customers and consumers.” (

MiamiMediaMesh at AmericanAirlines Arena

One of the newest and most innovative way of advertising through an arena is the MiamiMediaMesh at AmericanAirlines Arena. The media mesh covers 3,400 square feet of the Arena’s west face and provides official sponsors of the Miami Heat and AmericanAirlines Arena with tremendous reach for their sponsorship and promotional messaging (NBA, 2009).

According to Eric Woolworth, President of Business Operations for the Heat Group, “MiamiMediaMesh is a transforming advertising and promotional platform never before seen in the Miami community. MiamiMediaMesh will be a centerpiece of our city, serving as an innovative and bold advertising stage and event marquee, and giving Miami its own version of Times Square.”


Arguably the biggest limitation in NBA arena advertising is clutter (Lombardo, Lefton and Fisher, 2008). With so many ad spaces within one arena, fans may be hard-pressed to pay attention to any specific ones. As previously listed, one basket usually consists of at least three to four ads.

Another problem NBA arenas face is the issue of courtside liquor ads, which were approved in early 2009 after an 18 year ban. Many people feel these types of ads send the wrong message in a family-oriented atmosphere (Hollencamp, 2009). According to the Sports Business Journal, the NBA is also crafting policies that could allow teams to offer hard liquor advertising on team Web sites, point-of-sale retail locations or in-arena promotions.



Digital ads are the most frequent ads in NBA arenas and are often part of larger arena campaigns. The low range for a season-long digital campaign is about $75,000 (Vasquez, 2009).

Reach and Frequency

The reach and frequency is limited to the fans that attend games throughout the season for each NBA team. However, games aired on TV stations also offer the opportunity for sponsors to have their arena ads seen on camera. With its games reaching 215 countries and territories in 41 languages, and with players from 35 countries on NBA rosters, the league's worldwide reach is formidable.


Most arena ads are shown on a season-long basis during each game (Vasquez, 2009).


The impact of arena ads on fans is high, and it shows by the number of ad spaces that are being used to promote different products and companies. For example, the new signage on the stanchions was expected to generate between $100,000 and 150,000 in revenue, according to one NBA team official (Lombardo, 2008).




The NBA delivers a desirable and diverse fan base. Over 50% of the entire U.S. population considers themselves fans of the NBA.

Over 666,000 Milwaukee Bucks fans attended games at the Bradley Center for the 2006-2007 season. 55% of these fans were male, and 45% were female. 65% of the crowd are between the ages of 25-54. Over 60% of them are employed full-time. They are 33% more likely to have a college degree and 90% more likely to have a post graduate degree than the general population.

NBA fans are educated. Nearly half of adult NBA attendees have college degrees. The median household income of a fan attending an NBA game is $87,000. The average household income is $116,000.

Among U.S. kids age 7-11 who have a favorite athlete, four out of the top 6 players are from the NBA. 26% of NBA fans are ethnic minorities compared to 18% NFL, 15% MLB, and 13% NHL (


NBA fans have a 42% loyalty to sponsors. This is the percentage of fans who agree that a company who sponsors a sport they follow, “makes you want to buy that company’s product.” In addition, NBA fans are more likely to purchase the product of an NBA sponsor than the product of a non-sponsor (Miami Heat, 2010).


Some recent or current advertisers include Target, Corona, Best Buy, Verizon, Pepsi, Federated Insurance, US Bank, Degree deodorant, AT & T and Budweiser, among many, many others (Vasquez, 2009).

Target Shopping Center Advertisement at the Timberwolves' stadium.
The Pepsi Center, home of the Denver Nuggets.
Superstars Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul posing for a picture at the All-Star game,presented by Teen Mobile.
Anheuser Busch advertisements located outside of the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers.

AmericanAirlines Arena Unveils Three Story High Media Mesh. (2009, June 8). Retrieved on November 15, 2010 from

AmericanAirlines Arena Signs Partnership with Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink. (2011, March 22). Retrieved on May 4th, 2011 from

ESPN. 2010-2011 Attendance Report- NBA. Retrieved on November 15, 2010 from

Heat Group Corporate Partnership Overview. Retrieved on November 15, 2010 from

Hollencamp, Kate. (2009, January 22). NBA opens door for courtside liquor ads. Medill Reports. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from

Levine, Jed. (2010, June 8). The NBA vs. Global Pandemics. AdAge. Retrieved on May 4, 2011 from

Lombardo, J., Lefton, T., & Fisher, E. (2008, February 25). NBA tests advertising on backboards. Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from

Lombardo, John. (2008, September 29). NBA opens new ad space on stanchions. Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from

NBA Stadium Turnstile Advertising. (2009, April 5). Retrieved on May 4, 2011 from

Lombardo, John. (2009. September 21). Courtside LED signs give Knicks flexibility. Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from

Vasquez, Diego. (2009, November 30). Your client’s message at NBA games. Media Life Magazine. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from

Winning Audience: Milwaukee Bucks/ NBA Fan. (Feb 2006 - Jan 2007). Retrieved on May 4, 2011 from