SBJ/January 28-February 3, 2013/Events and Attractions

Fanatics tries on licensee role

E-commerce partner to supply NFL.com with championship shirts

NFL licensing partners are stepping up their game for the Super Bowl.

Established boundaries are crossed when a licensee becomes a retailer, or vice versa. For the first time, Fanatics.com, which administers e-commerce for nearly every sports property of consequence, including the NFL, is supplying Super Bowl championship T-shirts to NFLshop.com for sale after the game. Fanatics will supply and sell generically labeled hot-market T-shirts to the NFL site only. Nike will supply on-field championship tees for brick-and-mortar retail.

“This is about speed to market and servicing fans,” said NFL licensing chief Leo Kane.

Mindful of offending licensees for which it sells products, a Fanatics spokesman said e-commerce remains the company’s primary focus, adding, “We have no desire to grow on the licensee side.” However, expansion of Super Bowl responsibilities is a testimony to the company’s growing influence.

Licensees said either Baltimore or San Francisco would generate good sales as a Super Bowl champion, though many were mindful of the sales boom generated by the MLB Giants’ recent World Series championship.

The big player stories are Colin Kaepernick and Ray Lewis. VF Licensed Sports Group President Jim Pisani said that in addition to a large collection of generic Super Bowl apparel, VF has prepared a Ray Lewis Collection and a line commemorating what would be the 49ers’ sixth Super Bowl win, which would tie them with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most titles.

Lids will run the 30,000-square-foot store at the NFL Experience for the first time. Included will be shops within the shop from numerous licensees; EA Sports video game competitions; and DJs and Polynesian dancers tying with Willie Salave’a’s Style Pasifika jewelry.

A bewildering array of titles in New Orleans will sees Lids’ NFL Experience store called “NFL Shop at Super Bowl presented by Visa.” Meanwhile, the six hotel stores that will be serviced by Lids and a pop-up store in a former Hard Rock Café location will each be labeled “NFL Shop presented by Lids,” but the concessions sites within the Superdome operated by MainGate will also carry the title “NFL Shop presented by Lids.”

As with so many Super Bowl activities this year, the transition to next year’s New York/New Jersey-hosted Super Bowl is a big concern. The NFL already has an RFP out for the retail in and around next year’s contest. Even without knowing where the NFL Experience will be located, staging the NFL’s championship game in the country’s largest market smells like money to many. “Throw 4 or 5 million more people in the market than usual, and it gets pretty interesting,” said John DeWaal, Lids director of marketing.

New Era this year, on Tuesday’s Media Day, plans to introduce a 59Fifty on-field cap with a Super Bowl side patch, something it has been doing with its World Series caps since 1996. Braden Dahl, New Era’s director of NFL consumer marketing, said the brand also would have a fitting station at the NFL Experience store along with a manufacturing setup and a lounge at the Media Center.

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