The Dallas Mavericks issued a press release Monday stating that they are planning to redesign their court in the American Airlines Center for the 2016-17 season. The current court, ranked 23rd most appealing by Grantland, has been in use, in some iteration or another, since the Mavs completely rebranded the team in 2001. The court redesign will be open to the public and the team is encouraging fans to submit entries.
"Crowdsourcing [sic] our new court design is the best way to get a wide variety of creative and unique options from our fans," Mark Cuban said in the release. "It's also an opportunity for one of our fans to literally leave their mark on the home floor for millions of people to see. May the best MFFL win!"
If you recall, this isn't the first time that the team has crowd-sourced a design. The alternate "Skyline" jerseys that the team has worn this season were also crowd-sourced. On the surface, opening up design contests to the fans is a unique way for the team to interact with its fanbase. Off the top of my head, I can't think of another organization in the NBA that does this. However, I also have some severe misgivings about it.
This contest essentially gives the Mavericks the opportunity to short-change the creativity of an individual for the work they produce. Home courts are a major part of a team's brand as they are seen every single night across the league. While the court may not be as marketable or as profitable as jersey's or other merchandise, it is nonetheless one of the most visible features of an organization.
The contest winner for the "Skyline" jerseys, Geoff Case, received $1,000 and a pair of season tickets as his reward. How much money has the team raked in on sales of Skyline merchandise? I don't know that answer but I can safely bet that it far exceeds the cost of the award Case received.
What's the award for the person who submits the winning court design, you ask? From the release: "The creator of the winning design will win 2 season tickets for the Mavs' 2016-17 season and will be recognized on court on opening night of the Mavs' 2016-2017 season."
A pair of tickets for what amounts to a branding overhaul. Wow.
Look, I can't blame the Mavericks for crowd sourcing designs. It's a win-win for them. They get a new court or jersey design and it saves them a bunch of money. Design and branding firms aren't cheap and sometimes they come up with bad designs. The Los Angeles Clippers' re-brand comes to mind. It's just that the fans that win these contests are getting a raw deal and should be compensated for their effort, creativity, and the longevity in which the organization plans to use their designs. A pair a season tickets worth a few hundred dollars doesn't cut it.
Obviously, not everyone shares my views on fair compensation. Fan submissions are already pouring in. If you'd like to submit a design for the new court, you can find all the rules and restrictions at Mavs.com/MavsNewCourt. Then post your design to social media using the hashtag #MavsNewCourt.
I hope someone submits a design with the crying Jordan meme as the center court logo. That's worth some season tickets.