CORAL SPRINGS Their jerseys will continue to be red. But when the Florida Panthers step on the ice for practice and pregame skating sessions next season they will sport the patch of JetBlue.
The Panthers became the ninth NHL team to add a sponsor patch to their practice jersey Monday when they announced an expansion of a three-year partnership with the airline, which has become a major player in South Florida and the Caribbean basin.
In addition, JetBlue obtained naming rights to the Panthers’ practice facility at Saveology.com Iceplex.
“JetBlue has become a national brand, it’s one of the leading brands in the sky. They’re one of our pillar partners,” said Michael Yormark, president and COO of the Panthers and Sunrise Sports & Entertainment. “We wanted to package the practice jersey with the training facility [naming rights], and we just felt they were the perfect fit for us.”
Although those in the Caribbean and Latin America are more likely to associate ice with boat drinks than hockey, a JetBlue spokesman said the partnership has also been beneficial to the airline in its expansion throughout the region.
“The relationship is larger than hockey. It includes BankAtlantic Center and all of the events that go on every year there,” said Rick Pineda, senior analyst of national sponsorships for JetBlue. “You have to look at demographic of folks who go to hockey games: families, very opulent, a lot times looking for travel destinations for vacations. This affords us a great opportunity to touch those folks and teach them about some of the destinations we have in the Caribbean.
“We have seen direct [benefit] with this partnership. Last year was an amazing season for the team. I don’t think anybody can doubt the way this team is going.”
As part of the agreement, the JetBlue Tarmac and JetBlue Tailfin will continue to be featured at BankAtlantic Center. The Panthers will also conduct a youth hockey clinic in Puerto Rico later this year, Yormark said.
As for whether there may someday be a sponsor patch on the Panthers game jerseys, Yormark said, “I think [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman and the league would kill me if I gave my personal opinion on that matter. Sometime in the future maybe there is an opportunity to look at that.”