SBJ/April 2-8, 2012/Facilities

In new spin on store, Nats bringing in DJs and digital mirrors

Don Muret
Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

The Washington Nationals are revamping the team store at Nationals Park into a high-energy space with DJs, digital mirrors and video screens flashing team-branded content.

The renovation of the Nationals Majestic Team Store and other retail upgrades are tied to the club’s five-year deal with Gameday Merchandising, the stadium’s new retail concessionaire.

Working closely with the Nationals, Gameday has gutted the team store, which is situated inside the center-field gate, and is expanding it by 20 percent, to 4,200 square feet, with a new streetside entrance. To free up more space, the old ticket office in front of the store has been relocated to a new location on the center-field plaza. Construction continues at the store, and it is scheduled to reopen in May. Gameday will set up portable merchandise trailers for the next several weeks while the store is closed, Gameday President Alan Fey said.

The Washington Nationals want to give fans more excitement in their retail operations.
Photo by: WASHINGTON NATIONALS
When the larger, redesigned team store reopens, its new look and feel will revolve around a live DJ playing a variety of music before weekend games and other high-profile dates, said Andy Feffer, the Nationals’ chief operating officer.
The Nationals’ strategy is to bring a fresh approach to team store operations by adding some excitement to sports facility retail, and the music element will help set the tone, Feffer said. The new setup reflects best practices in retail design, including apparel stores outside of sports, he said.

The new look extends to high-tech mirrors displaying product images that disappear when customers stand in front of them, and videos showcasing Nationals players filmed during this year’s spring training in Florida. In addition, the store will have newly branded sections for MLB licensees Majestic, New Era, Nike and Pink, part of Victoria’s Secret.

The Nationals believe the layout will help better connect fans with their younger players such as Stephen Strasburg, Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper, as well as veterans Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, Feffer said.

The Nationals ranked in the lower third of MLB in retail sales for the 2011 season, according to SportsOneSource, a research firm that tracks sales of sporting goods. MLB does not release sales data for individual teams.

Elsewhere at Nationals Park, Gameday is building an exclusive New Era cap store on the first base side of the main concourse. The 1,600-square-foot store will be among the first free-standing New Era locations at an MLB facility, Feffer said. Gameday Merchandising replaces Facility Merchandising Inc., the Nationals’ retail vendor since the 2009 season.

Feffer declined to disclose the cost of the retail upgrades other than to say the Nationals and Gameday are sharing the investment.

TEAMING UP: Two competitors in the customer relationship marketing space have formed a partnership to pursue new business.

Legends Sales and Marketing and StoneTimberRiver have joined forces to market a comprehensive customer relationship management system covering ticket sales, premium seating and sponsorship sales.

StoneTimberRiver, based in Chapel Hill, N.C., has been in business for 16 years and has about 65 deals with major league teams. The firm got its start in sports in 2001, signing the New York Giants to manage the team’s corporate sales database.

Two years ago, StoneTimberRiver expanded its business model to cover ticket sales after switching to the Microsoft Dynamics platform, said Derek DeBree, the firm’s founder and president. StoneTimberRiver also sells a CRM system for broadcast traffic management.

Legends got into the CRM business about two years ago, marketing the same tools that company principals used to sell premium seats at Cowboys Stadium. Its missing component was sponsorship sales, something StoneTimberRiver specializes in, said Legends President Chad Estis. The alliance with StoneTimberRiver covers all the bases for managing a team’s marketing efforts, Estis said.

The Legends-StoneTimberRiver partnership has already sold CRM systems to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Orlando Magic, American Airlines Center and Barclays Center.

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