NFL LOOKS TO RETAIL SEASON; PATRIOTS SEEN AS HOT NEW LOOK
The '95-96 selling season for NFL-licensed merchandise is
examined by Dana Parker of NSGA's RETAIL FOCUS. Parker surveyed
retailers and manufacturers on the coming season, and "although
the market is becoming increasingly regionalized ... overall
bookings are up and prospects look bright." The Cowboys and
49ers remain on top in popularity and most agree they are the
only teams with national appeal. But "almost everyone agrees"
that 1995's "number three team appears to be the Patriots." Rich
Heller at Champion Products said Drew Bledsoe is "the hottest
single player in replicas." Of the rookies, Bengals' KiJana
Carter is "creating the most excitement." Among new and
relocated teams, the expansion Panthers and Jaguars are creating
little interest except "in their home markets," and sales of St.
Louis Rams gear "are being hampered by a late start plus the fact
they haven't changed colors." Some retailers predict a new trend
away from authentic, to "a gradual shift of interest to the
fashion side." Industry experts also cite the work stoppages in
baseball and hockey as well as Reebok's entry into the NFL-
licensed market as a boost to the NFL. Steve Diamond of Gaylan's
Trading Co. in Indiana said Reebok brings "some different looks
... They have the potential to do real well" (RETAIL FOCUS,
NINERS THROW AWAY "THROWBACKS": The 49ers have shelved plans
to wear a special jersey during the upcoming season, replacing
their '55-replica "throwback" jersey with their standard gold and
red look. 49ers President Carmen Policy said they had discussed
a special uniform, but were talked out of the idea by the league.
Policy said that team will "put together a 50th anniversary
uniform for 1996 and will gain help in designing it from NFL
Properties, players and TV networks" (Clark Judge, SAN JOSE
MERCURY NEWS, 7/18).
LOGO MADNESS: USA TODAY's "In Focus" scrutinizes new logos
for pro teams. Logo changes won't happen next season in
baseball, since the strike has put a "hold" on all new looks.
MLB Properties VP/Design Services Anne Occi: "The owners felt
very strongly about not causing either our licensees, retailers
or fans to have more additional costs or be stuck with
inventory." The Astros logo change in '94 is profiled as the
team has moved into the top 10 in MLB-licensed merchandise sales.
Occi said that alternative uniforms and second and third caps
"are where the tide in baseball is going" (Gary Mihoces, USA