Gameday wins retail rights for NHL’s Heritage Classic game

The NHL has awarded Gameday Merchandising the exclusive retail rights for the 2011 NHL Heritage Classic in Calgary.

The Feb. 20 event at McMahon Stadium, home of the CFL Stampeders, has the Flames playing host to Montreal. It is the first outdoor NHL game in Canada since 2003, when the Oilers and Canadiens played at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

McMahon Stadium, a 50-year-old facility, has a small retail store measuring about 1,000 square feet. Gameday plans to supplement that permanent location with about seven portable stands plus a tented store outside the building and a site at the Westin Hotel, event headquarters for the NHL.

Reebok, the NHL’s exclusive jersey supplier, produced a special Heritage Classic sweater to be worn by Flames players that was first shown to the public in July when the league formally announced the event.

The Flames were expected to start selling those jerseys last week at the Scotiabank Saddledome, their home arena, and at retail outlets in Calgary, said Barry Monaghan, the NHL’s vice president of retail sales and marketing.

Monaghan would not disclose the league’s expectations tied to Heritage Classic retail, but he did say it is close to the goals the NHL sets for its Winter Classic, a separate outdoor game entering its fourth year in the U.S.

The first Winter Classic in January 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium generated about $700,000 in gross sales from apparel and novelties, according to officials with Delaware North Sportservice, the vendor selling merchandise for that event.

For the coming Winter Classic, Jan. 1 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ in-house retail department secured the rights to sell merchandise as part of its deal with the NHL, Monaghan said.

In Calgary, McMahon Stadium has a capacity of 35,650, but the NHL will add portable seating throughout the facility to bump capacity up to about 41,000, he said.

Gameday also signed a multiyear agreement with the Portland Timbers, a Major League Soccer expansion team. Gameday will run a team store in a plaza at the main entrance of PGE Park, a minor league baseball stadium undergoing a $35 million renovation.

The club plans to launch a new logo and unveil its new jersey next month, said Mike Golub, the Timbers’ chief operating officer.


CENTRAL PARK: The San Diego Padres plan to book more concerts in an intimate setting at Petco Park despite losing money on two shows the first weekend of November, said Tom Garfinkel, the club’s president and chief operating officer.

The special events were a benefit for Stand Up To Cancer. The club reached its goal of creating a nightclub experience by cutting the 42,691-seat stadium to 5,200 seats with the stage facing the Western Metals Building in left field, Garfinkel said.


Colbie Caillat performs at one of the Padres’
concerts Nov. 5 at Petco Park.

The Saturday night show Nov. 6 drew 5,147 for John Legend with Macy Gray. The previous night was about 500 short of 5,000 when headliner Jewel canceled her performance at the last minute because of an ear infection.

Most important, the concerts did not damage the field. In fact, Garfinkel said, the grass actually grew underneath the heavy plastic protective cover.

Next year, the Padres could schedule a few shows on the field during baseball season and potentially add 500 to 1,000 seats by opening up space in the Park in a Park, the general admission berm in right field.

Those patrons would face the rear of the stage, but Garfinkel envisions a setup similar to Ravinia Festival in suburban Chicago, where concertgoers bring their picnic baskets and blankets and listen to the music from a considerable distance with no clear view of the performers.

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

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