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Volume 20 No. 42
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Mitchell & Ness to open location in Xfinity Live! Philadelphia

Don Muret
Mitchell & Ness, the vintage sports apparel maker, is opening a store at Xfinity Live! Philadelphia, the new entertainment complex down the street from Wells Fargo Center.

The 700-square-foot store, now under construction, is part of the district’s Philly MarketPlace, a series of restaurants and sports bars showcasing iconic Philly brands. It’s being built on the site of the old Spectrum and will open the last week of March.

Mitchell & Ness signed a three-year deal with options that could stretch the agreement to 15 years, said Reed Cordish, vice president of The Cordish Cos., the Baltimore-based project developer.

In return, Mitchell & Ness, a 108-year-old Philly company, becomes the exclusive retail partner of Xfinity Live! with brand exposure on digital signs at the complex and store promotions through social media, Cordish said.

Mitchell & Ness ownership is sharing construction costs with Cordish and will stock the store and train its employees. It will be operated by The Cordish Cos., in conjunction with Comcast-Spectacor, its partner in Xfinity Live! and the owner of Wells Fargo Center and the Flyers. The store’s management structure is consistent with the overall complex, said Sean McKinney, president of Mitchell & Ness.

Its signature design elements are the Spectrum’s old dasherboards and wood planks at center court that form a perimeter wall and floor space.

In part because of the store’s size, merchandise will be restricted to Philly pro teams, plus Villanova and Temple, two local schools that play some home basketball games at Wells Fargo Center.

The product mix will be 80 percent Mitchell & Ness throwback items and 20 percent modern-day apparel produced by Adidas and Reebok, official suppliers of the NBA and NHL, McKinney said.

The Xfinity Live! store is the fifth Mitchell & Ness location in Philadelphia. In 2007, the retailer opened The Alley Store at Citizens Bank Park’s Ashburn Alley, the outfield concessions destination run by Aramark, the Phillies’ food and retail concessionaire.

Across the street, Lincoln Financial Field has the Eagles Pro Shop Featuring Mitchell & Ness, where the NFL team runs retail.

Outside Philly, Mitchell & Ness has an in-venue presence at the Cowboys Stadium Pro Shop in Arlington, where the retailer is one of Cowboys Merchandising’s few outside licensees.

Last season, Mitchell & Ness opened two new boutique stores at Dodger Stadium in the ballpark’s Dugout Club and Stadium Club. The retailer plans to expand internationally in Europe, Mc-Kinney said.

SPECIAL PROJECT: Former FC Dallas Stadium general manager Michael Hitchcock is developing a new North American Soccer League facility in San Antonio tied to a noble cause, special-needs children.

A stadium being developed in San Antonio will be home to the NASL Scorpions.
In a deal thought to be a first in pro sports, 100 percent of all net proceeds from operations tied to the San Antonio Scorpions will go to the operation of Morgan’s Wonderland, a theme park customized for disabled kids. The Scorpions are in their first year as an NASL club.

Local businessman Gordon Hartman, the Scorpions’ owner, is the driving force behind both projects. Hartman privately built Morgan’s Wonderland, named for his daughter with special needs, and is building the stadium across the street from the park in northeast San Antonio.

Hitchcock is a founding partner of Playbook Management International, the consultant hired by Soccer for a Cause, corporate parent of the Scorpions and the stadium.

The team’s operating budget this year is $1.6 million, and Playbook Management is getting close to that number. It has sold more than 30 sponsorships valued at more than $600,000, a number covering agreements with Anheuser-Busch, Nike and Univision. The Bud Light Party Deck will be part of the new facility, Hitchcock said.

Officials expect to surpass $1 million in sponsorship revenue alone in 2012, doubling projections for the Scorpions’ first year of play at Heroes Stadium, a $30 million high school football stadium.

Groundbreaking for the new stadium, designed by local firm Luna Architecture, is set for early March, and it will open for the 2013 season. It can expand to 18,000 seats should San Antonio land an MLS team, Hitchcock said. The stadium’s total cost is less than $20 million.

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