SBD/January 27, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

As Bobcats Prepare For Name Change, Hornets Gear Producing Record Sales Numbers

Hornets gear generated the three best sales days at the Bobcats' team store
The Bobcats began selling Hornets merchandise at Time Warner Cable Arena on Jan. 18, and sales at the team store "accounted for two of the three largest revenue days since the arena opened" in '05, according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The Bobcats, who are changing their team name next season, "retained exclusive retail rights for the first three days of sales, meaning fans could buy the new Hornets gear only at the arena or online." Retailers "began receiving items" two weeks ago. Bobcats execs "declined to share specific sales figures, but they said the three best sales days at the arena store in team history have all occurred in the past five weeks," including Dec. 21, when the new Hornets logo was unveiled. Bobcats Exec VP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Pete Guelli said that that night, the "so-called legacy line of team apparel, using the old logo from the Hornets’ earlier tenure in Charlotte, produced a record sales night." Bobcats President & COO Fred Whitfield said that the results "are even more encouraging since only 50 items are available." NBA apparel and collectibles "come from 400 companies with licensed-product rights, and many of those 400 companies make several different items." Whitfield: “Two things we don’t have are kids’ apparel and we don’t have our jerseys and uniforms." The team said that uniforms "won’t be ready until late summer" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/23). Spanberg said the Bobcats "might end up making a little money" in apparel sales, but the "big thing is that marketing push, that interest push and the fact all this nostalgia begins to swell into ticket sales" ("Flashpoint," WCNC-NBC, 1/26).

BACK THE BUZZ: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's John Lombardo notes the franchise next year "will have some new business benchmarks." Bobcats officials are "budgeting that the rebranding will push sales of full-season-equivalent tickets to more than 10,000, up from 8,000 this season, and that the club will hit" a 90% renewal rate among current season-ticket holders for the '14-15 season. Team execs said that the Bobcats "have never had" 10,000 full-season ticket holders. Leaguewide, 10,000 is "seen as a key sales benchmark." Meanwhile, the merchandise gains are "expected to continue as well, especially once the team unveils its new uniform this summer" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/27 issue).
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