Best Promotional Items for Sports

  1. Helmets filled with ice cream
  2. Custom team apparel
  3. Pennants and flags
  4. Foam fingers or wavers
  5. Bobbleheads
  6. Keychains and magnets
  7. Pint glasses
  8. Promotional koozies
  9. License plate frames
  10. Mascot teddy bears
  11. Seat cushions
  12. Custom tote bags
  13. Personalized mugs
  14. Postcards and greeting cards
  15. Team ornaments

You can’t call yourself a super sports fan you have official team memorabilia! Your room should be decked out in posters, you should have a jersey you rock during every game, and you should decorate your car with an obnoxious amount of bumper stickers.

The merch is part of the experience at a sports game, whether you’re going to watch the professionals at a stadium or sitting in a lawn chair to cheer on your kiddo during a little league tournament. It’s important and downright fun to show your team spirit!

Here are the best sports promotional items of all time. This swag can be bought at the concession stand, purchased at the gift shops, or given away as freebies to dedicated fans.

1. Helmets Filled With Ice Cream

Source: hungerpass.com

Mmm, nothing says “summer” quite like creamy ice cream inside a baseball helmet! You can enjoy this sweet treat while sitting in the bleachers, and then bring the tiny helmet home later as a souvenir. Dairy Queen even started selling their own promotional helmets in the mid-1970s. These are still collectible items to this day!

Helmets with ice cream are one of the best team souvenirs, but some concession stands are expanding their menu to include other yummy desserts. If you’re ever at Yankee Stadium, for instance, you should try the “Pinstripe Shake.” This tasty vanilla milkshake contains all the ballpark faves – cotton candy, Cracker Jacks, and caramel drizzle!

2. Custom Team Apparel

Source: sundancesquare.com

Fans are likely already wearing a logo t-shirt, sweater, and hat (and maybe some face paint) to a sports game. But that doesn’t mean they won’t want some new custom team apparel to add to their wardrobe!

The following team apparel is a must for your sports team:

Be inspired by the Dallas Cowboys who have an incredible variety of custom clothing for their fans. In fact, the Dallas Cowboys are one of the NFL teams that sell the most apparel every year. They always have awesome promotional swag for their fans, including Super Bowl merch from the five times they’ve won thus far!

3. Pennants and Flags

Source: photomation.com

Flags and pennants symbolize pride and dedication to an organization. You’ll often even see a team’s flag waving right next to the American flag during the “National Anthem.”

It’s this pride that makes custom team flags must-have sports promotional items at every stadium. These flags should decorate the walls, wave outside of local businesses, and hang from the rafters, such as the pennants pictured here for the Anaheim Ducks.

Bringing these flags home as souvenirs after a game is just the icing on the cake. Fans can show their team love by hanging them outside of their homes, or using them to decorate their kid’s bedroom. It’s the best way to encourage another generation of fandom!

4. Foam Fingers or Wavers

Source: bigplay.com

We’re #1! We’re #1! Show everyone your team’s a winner with classic custom foam fingers or foam wavers. These squishy hands and sticks are a great way to hype up everyone in the crowd.

In 2016, the Denver Nuggets gave away free foam fingers to all the fans at one of their home games. The fans were then asked to do a “finger wag” in honor of Hall of Famer, Dikembe Mutombo. His jersey was retired during the same game, so fans (and their fingers) got to be part of an important moment in NBA history!

5. Bobbleheads

Source: truebluela.com

A Milwaukee entrepreneur named Danny Goodman invented bobbleheads for the LA Dodgers in 1963. They sold for only $3 at Gilmore Field and went on to inspire other teams in not only the MLB, but also the NBA, NHL, and NFL to create special bobbleheads of their own players. The history of sports merchandise was forever changed!

The Dodgers bobblehead game is still going strong. The team planned on having 18 bobblehead giveaways at the ballpark in 2020, starting with Max Muncy for the series finale against the San Francisco Giants. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused them to change their plans since fans wouldn’t be in attendance.

Still, that isn’t to say bobbleheads won’t be part of the games once fans are back at the stadium! Time will tell how these novelty items are used in the future.

6. Keychains & Magnets

Keychains and magnets are staple items in any gift shop! They’re some of the most affordable sports promotional products, which is great for fans who come to the game, but are on a budget.

If you’re looking for promotional items for your sports league, schedule magnets in your team colors are a good way to go. Fans can then stick them right to the fridge and have a handy reminder of game times. The MLB and NFL have both used this strategy, and between them, they have over 20 million viewers every season!

7. Pint Glasses

Source: gravyanalytics.com

Beer is part of any professional sports game if you’re 21 or over. It’s filling up the stadium cups at the pregame tailgate, and it’s being poured like crazy in glasses at the stadium. Is it any surprise that 48% of sports fans love beer?

Football fans are perhaps the booziest in the bunch, which is exactly why Budweiser is a big supporter of the NFL. One of their best campaigns came in the form of LED beer glasses, which could be synced up to a fan’s phone via Bluetooth. The personalized pint glasses would then light up when their team scored a touchdown.

The 49ers, Broncos, Colts, Giants, and Jets are just a few teams in the NFL that have offered the “Touchdown Glass” at their respective stadiums. These custom sports products are a huge hit with fans!

8. Promotional Koozies

Source: sportspromohunter.com

After a few ice cold drinks, your hands can start to look red and raw. That’s the beauty of stadiums that sell or give away koozie can coolers! These holders slip right over your drink can or bottle.

Can sleeves have a ton of personality, especially when they’re in a unique shape. Take for example the jersey bottle holders handed out by the Arizona Coyotes in 2019 for their “College Night.” These promotional giveaways were handed out for the game against the Vegas Golden Knights, who had only been in the NHL for two years at the time!

9. License Plate Frames

Source: fatmanwriting.com

You can still support your team, even while sitting in traffic on your way to the game! It’s as easy as screwing on a personalized license plate frame. Or if you’re feeling really frisky, you can follow in this Washington super fan’s footsteps and deck out your entire car with a themed paint job!

The Seahawks are too fast and too furious when it comes to auto themed souvenirs. Not only did a fan cover his car with their colors, but in 2015 they gave out license plate frames as a prize after defeating the Green Bay Packers to make it to the Super Bowl. If that’s not enough, they also hand out golden license plate frames to their season ticket holders.

A fan’s car can be a moving billboard for a sports team. The stadium or arena might not sell car paint, but they should at least have the small stuff like license plate frames.

10. Mascot Teddy Bears

Source: itsalldowntown.com

The kids are sports fans, too! With that in mind, every stadium, arena, or league should sell promotional stuffed animals. These furry friends will be held onto as sports memorabilia for years.

Just look at the St. Louis Cardinals! The 11-time World Series champs partnered with Build-a-Bear in 2019, offering 2,000 teddy bears for their home game against the Travelers. Not only that, but they also gave away exclusive teddy bears at a restaurant near the ballpark.

When it comes to fandom, you may as well get them started young. Stuffed animals are a huggable way to make it happen!

11. Seat Cushions

Source: russianmachineneverbreaks.com

Those bleachers and rock hard folding chairs can be brutal on the butt. Your tush will be happier if it’s planted on a custom seat cushion.

The arenas in the NHL in particular are cold and have particularly hard seating. Capital One Arena in Washington posed an excellent solution. Following a Stanley Cup win, the arena started selling seat cushions from the venue where some of the games were played. Fans could then reuse these while attending future games.

This campaign was a smart way to eliminate waste following a $40 million renovation of Capital One Arena. The Washington Capitals also sell custom seat cushions in their gift shops.

12. Custom Tote Bags

Source: stadiumgivewayexchange.com

You can use custom tote bags for so many things – work bags, weekend errands, and of course, shopping for game day snacks like chips and buffalo wings at the grocery store! That’s exactly why they’re some of the best sports promotional items.

The Chicago Cubs sure seem to think so! In 2019, they gave away 10,000 of these adorable canvas tote bags at their game against the San Francisco Giants. Fans in the Windy City loved the bags so much, the Cubs ran the campaign again with different, but equally stylish bags!

13. Personalized Mugs

Source: dailyherald.com

Everybody loves caffeine, whether you’re a football, baseball, basketball, or hockey fan. That’s exactly why ceramic mugs and travel mugs are excellent promotional products for any sports organization!

Take a page from the Chicago Bulls book. They celebrated the 2015 season with a ton of custom giveaways, which included glow bracelets for opening night, camouflage hats for Veteran’s Day, and fun Movember mugs in honor of No Shave November.

14. Postcards & Greeting Cards

Source: fineartamerica.com

Trading cards are old-school, and if you got caught up in the craze in the 80s and 90s, you probably have boxes sitting in your garage or attic. Postcards and greeting cards are a much better choice, especially for fans who travel to a different state to see a game.

During the holidays, teams like the Chicago Bears keep seasonal cards in their gift shops. Fans can get these in bulk and send them out in lieu of forcing their family to take an awkward photo!

15. Team Ornaments

Speaking of the holidays…nothing warms the heart more than a nice ornament. It will decorate the house every season, showing off your fandom to family and friends who come to visit for the holidays.

For a December game in 2015, the New Orleans Pelicans gave away free ornaments to fans. This holiday decor is sure to be cherished and hung on the tree with care year after year!

Final Thoughts

We may all follow a different team, but we’re united in our love for the merch! If you’re a sports fan, you’re more than willing to splurge on swag, but it’s even better to get a free bobblehead, ornament, or shirt from the t-shirt cannon.

Next to national titles and tasty concession stand food, the stylish merchandise is one of the best parts of being a fan! So even though you’re not pro, make sure to have a bunch of great promotional items for your league or organization.

References

Family Pickers. Best Selling Sports Team Merchandise on eBay. Retrieved from, https://www.thefamilypickers.com/best-selling-sports-team-merchandise-on-ebay/

Kay, A. (2016, October 29). Nuggets Honor Dikembe Mutombo with Foam Finger Wag Giveaway. Retrieved from, https://clutchpoints.com/nuggets-honor-dikembe-mutombo-with-foam-finger-wag-giveaway/

Moreno, M. (2019, November 27). Dodgers 2020 Promotional Schedule & Giveaways. Retrieved from, https://dodgerblue.com/dodgers-2020-promotional-schedule-giveaways-max-muncy-vin-scully-bobblehead-dates-dollar-dodger-dog-nights-more/2019/11/27/

Young, J. (2020, July 24). ESPN’s MLB Opening Day Games Draw Average of 4 Million Viewers, Up 232% From Last Year. Retrieved from, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/24/espns-mlb-opening-day-games-draws-average-of-4-million-viewers.html

Rizzo, L. (2020, January 2). NFL Ratings Increase for Second Straight Year. Retrieved from, https://www.wsj.com/articles/nfl-ratings-increase-for-second-straight-year-11578006629

Gravy Analytics. Campaigns We Love: Bud Light’s Touchdown Glass. Retrieved from, https://gravyanalytics.com/blog/products/campaigns-we-love-bud-lights-touchdown-glass/

Fan Hospitality. (2017, April 11). Beer and Sports: Facts, Figures & Fan Favorites! Retrieved from, https://www.fanhospitality.com/blog/2017/04/11/beer-and-sports-facts-figures-fan-favorites/

NHL.com. (2019, July 24). Coyotes Announce 2019-20 Theme Nights and Promotions. Retrieved from, https://www.nhl.com/coyotes/news/coyotes-announce-2019-20-theme-nights-and-promotions/c-308338914

It’s All Downtown. (2019, August 11). Cardinals Build-A-Bear® Giveaway | Cardinals vs. Travelers. Retrieved from, https://www.itsalldowntown.com/calendar/cardinals-build-a-bear-giveaway-cardinals-vs-travelers/

Burchfiel, N. (2018, June 20). Capital One Arena is Selling Seats and Seat Cushions from Capitals’ Stanley Cup Run. Retrieved from, https://russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2018/06/20/capital-one-arena-is-selling-seats-and-seat-cushions-from-capitals-stanley-cup-run/

NBA.com. Chicago Bulls Announce 2015-16 Season Giveaways and Theme Nights for Fans. Retrieved from, https://www.nba.com/bulls/news/chicago-bulls-announce-2015-16-season-giveaways-and-theme-nights-fans

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.