SBJ/July 22-28, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Blackhawks set to hit top three all time in hot market sales; Heat slightly ahead of ’12

Both the NHL and NBA are reporting an uptick in hot-market sales from their recently completed championships.

NHL officials and retailers were calling the Chicago Blackhawks’ win one of their best-ever championship markets. Considering further the season’s lockout, which cut teams’ schedules from 82 to 48 games, league officials were pleased with the sales numbers.

Season openers weren’t played until January because of the lockout.

“You can’t lose the holiday season and not have an impact,” said Brian Jennings, NHL executive vice president of marketing, adding that when all the counting is over, the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victory will rank in the top three all-time for Stanley Cup hot markets — following the New York Rangers in 1994 and Detroit Red Wings in 2002. “Considering where we started, we’re all pretty happy where we closed,” Jennings said.

Postseason merchandise sales in-venue were up 8 percent leaguewide for the entire playoffs compared to 2012, with the Blackhawks up 6.2 percent from 2010, their prior Cup-winning season.

Compared to 2012, when the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup, night-of-win sales for the Blackhawks were up 101 percent, and the two-day totals after the Cup clincher were up 93 percent.

The Blackhawks’ record start to the season (21-0-3 in their first 24 games) apparently got fans on board early. Jennings also noted fan support “across all ages and demos.”

“We were all commenting on how many kids and young women we saw at the United Center and at their parade,” he said.

Heat locker room T-shirt sales were flat compared with last year, but official caps fueled growth.
Photo by: NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
As for the NBA, licensing chief Sal LaRocca said sales were slightly up for Miami championship merchandise following the Heat’s second consecutive title. Sales of the locker-room T-shirt from master licensee Adidas were flat, but championship locker room caps and a women’s T-shirt counterbalanced that.

Total postseason concession sales in-venue were up 12 percent for the league.

Globally, the NBA hit a new high in total season sales, thanks in part to what LaRocca said was its best regular-season per cap ever — and the first one in which every team achieved at least a $1 or better merchandise
per cap. The Nets’ rebranding and move from New Jersey to Brooklyn also juiced sales, with the Nets moving from being one of the worst-selling teams to No. 4 overall.

“Teams are becoming better merchandisers, and we are generating more global demand,” LaRocca said. He added that while no lease has been signed, the NBA is close to selecting a new Fifth Avenue site for the NBA Store in New York City. The current NBA Store, a 6,000-square-foot emporium at 590 Fifth Ave., has been called a “temporary location” by the league since it opened in October 2011. The league hopes to open a larger and more permanent store around fall 2014.

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