SBJ/Sept. 20-26, 2010/Franchises

Cavs stick with decision to double size of arena store

The Cleveland Cavaliers are continuing with plans to double the size of their team store inside Quicken Loans Arena despite the loss of LeBron James, who ranked second in the NBA in jersey sales last season.

The Cavs began building their new two-story, 5,700-square-foot team store months before James bolted Cleveland for the Miami Heat. The store, formerly 3,200 square feet, will be one of the largest in the NBA. It also will feature a replica of the center-hung scoreboard inside the “Q” as the team looks to drive in-arena merchandise sales without the star power of James, who fueled Cavs merchandise sales last season to rank third in the league, behind the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. Only Kobe Bryant last season ranked ahead of James in jersey sales.

“The reality is that one player not being here will have an impact, but our organization is built on fan experience,” said Tracy Marek, senior vice president of marketing for the Cavaliers. “There was certainly a lot of excitement around LeBron, but there is also a lot of interest in what is going on with the team.”

The Cavs are banking on new uniforms featuring a return to their original logo and wine and gold color scheme to drive sales in the absence of James in the store that stands with the Staples Center store as the largest in the NBA. Consider that the Oklahoma City Thunder’s new team arena store set to open this fall is 2,000 square feet.

Marek would not disclose the cost of the Cavs’ new store, which is set to open Oct. 5.

“Most NBA team stores are around 2,000 square feet to 3,000 square feet, so the Cavs store will be one of the marquee stores in the NBA,” said Alan Fey, president of Gameday Merchandising, which handles merchandise sales for three NBA teams. “It shows that they believe in their brand.”

Not only is the size of the Cavs team store reaching NFL stadium store proportions — the store inside the Denver Broncos’ Invesco Field is 6,000 square feet — but the Cavs also are implementing new technology. Along with typical cashier stands, store employees will use handheld devices to check out customers at the display racks to speed up transactions, a first among NBA team stores. The Cavs also have built specific youth and women’s merchandise sales areas within the space.

Merchandise from the Dan Gilbert-owned Lake Erie Monsters minor league hockey team will also be sold.

“We have spent about a year planning the store and we are looking at how we can do things differently,” Marek said.
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