MainGate adds Redskins to growing list of NFL merch deals

Sports retailer MainGate continues to expand its NFL business, signing a 10-year deal with the Washington Redskins to manage the club’s merchandise operation at FedEx Field, its online shop and 12 mall stores as far south as Richmond, Va.

The deal is effective June 1. The Redskins previously ran retail in-house.

MainGate was founded in 1963, when it began running event merchandise for the National Hot Rod Association. The Indianapolis-based company signed the Colts as its first NFL client in 2006, a deal activated in 2008 a few months before the team began play in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Since then, MainGate has done deals with the Browns, Chiefs, Lions, Rams and Vikings, and now the Redskins.

MainGate now has online merchandise deals for just under 20 percent of NFL teams, said company spokeswoman Samantha Barton. Its agreements with the Rams and Chiefs are for online sales only, and the Browns deal is limited to fulfillment for Cleveland’s Kids Club program.

E-commerce is the fastest-growing part of MainGate’s business, increasing from less than 3 percent of total sales five years ago to between 15 percent and 20 percent in 2010, said Dave Moroknek, the firm’s president and CEO.

MainGate’s accounts include the Susan
G. Komen Foundation and its Race for
the Cure.

“It continues to grow, not only as we get more clients, but also in the amount of resources we’re putting behind it,” Moroknek said.

MainGate works with its NFL clients and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the nonprofit breast cancer awareness group for which it is the exclusive event and online retailer, to post a new item or promotion on its partners’ Facebook page. Those promotions are done monthly, Barton said.

“There are so many marketing factors you can utilize online through search engine optimization and direct e-mail blasts, and we’re working with the teams’ marketing departments to do a lot of social media pushing to the sites,” Moroknek said.

Brick-and-mortar retail sales continue to hold their own, he said. In fact, Moroknek has seen per caps increase at all MainGate events, even those with slight decreases in attendance.

In Washington, MainGate plans to meet demand for product tied to new Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb by reconfiguring the team store layout, increasing the number of checkout lanes from seven to 14 and adding five new portable kiosks.

Overall, MainGate is doubling points of sale to a total of 80 throughout the facility.

“Unfortunately, there is no room to expand the team store, but we know by remodeling it we will increase the efficiencies dramatically,” Moroknek said. “The Redskins have a brand that’s worth an awful lot of money, and we need to make sure it is represented well.”

The Mountain Ranch Club offers
premium hospitality at Coors Field.

 ROCKIE TOP: The Colorado Rockies have repositioned the Mountain Ranch Club at Coors Field as a premium hospitality space where season tickets are sold for four-seat and two-seat tables indoors and outdoors.

Every seat in the right-field restaurant faces the field and each half-moon-shaped granite table has a small television to watch replays and highlights, said Greg Feasel, the team’s executive vice president of business operations.

The ticket price, $75 a person a game, includes a $30 food credit and parking. As of early May, the Rockies had sold season tickets for nine tables, Feasel said.

The Rockies are also offering a 25-game “pick your own plan” that can include one Red Sox game and two Cubs games. Those tickets are priced at $82 a person a game, including the $30 food credit.

Those stored-value tickets are marketed as the “Power Ticket,” the same name the Phillies use for their loaded ticket program at Citizens Bank Park.

Aramark, the Rockies’ food provider, operates the Mountain Ranch Club.

 WHERE TO?: Don’t be surprised if North Carolina athletic department officials book the UNC-Texas men’s basketball game this fall at a venue other than Greensboro Coliseum, the site for which it was originally planned.

It’s the Tar Heels’ turn to play host to the Longhorns after the teams played the first of a home-and-home series at Cowboys Stadium in December. At the time the agreement was completed last spring, 23,500-seat Greensboro Coliseum, one of the biggest arenas in the country, was named as the facility where the second game would be held. That’s not set in stone, said Larry Gallo, North Carolina’s senior associate athletic director.

“We have an opportunity to take the game elsewhere,” Gallo said May 6. “It would not be in the Carolinas.” An official announcement was expected soon, but as of last Tuesday, there was no information confirming a site.

For the first game, North Carolina and Texas each received a $200,000 guarantee for playing at Cowboys Stadium, in addition to collecting separate $25,000 bonuses tied to game attendance. The announced crowd was 38,052.

There will be no college hoops games in Arlington this year, with Cowboys games and high school football playoffs filling most weekends in December, the month officials are targeting for an annual game, said Chad Estis, the Cowboys’ senior vice president of sales and marketing.

But for 2011, Mendelson Entertainment, the promoter behind the first UNC-Texas game, plans a college doubleheader at Cowboys Stadium, said Barry Mendelson, the firm’s president. It will include another ACC-Big 12 matchup, he said.

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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