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Volume 20 No. 42
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Jordan shoes help Bobcats’ store hit the ground running

Don Muret
The lure of free sneakers resulted in a record night for the Charlotte Bobcats’ team store at Time Warner Cable Arena.

As part of the Bobcats’ effort to fill the arena for their NBA regular-season home opener, the first 100 fans who spent $150 on merchandise in the team store got a complimentary pair of Jordan Retro 1 basketball shoes, a $100 value.

The retail promotion produced total sales of about $100,000 for the Bobcats, the highest-grossing night ever at the 7-year-old facility, according to Pete Guelli, the team’s executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer.

The store gave away Jordan Retro 1 basketball shoes to the first 100 people who spent $150 at the home opener.
The Nov. 2 game against the Indiana Pacers was the first opportunity for fans to buy the Bobcats’ new-look home jersey in the team store. The new logo says “Cats” with the color blue more prominent in the team marks than it has been in past seasons.
In addition, the Bobcats have stocked the team store with more co-branded Jordan Brand/Bobcats apparel to capitalize on the relationship between team owner Michael Jordan and the Nike line of apparel named for him, Guelli said.
“It’s something no other team in the NBA can do,” he said. “It’s really a Jordan boutique.”

Outside the team store, the Bobcats, in conjunction with Levy Restaurants, their food provider, cut prices in half for concessions, including beer and wine. Levy’s per cap was $7.50, an average spend tied to $143,430 in gross sales from an announced crowd of 19,124.

The per cap was similar to the food sales for a typical Bobcats game with regularly priced concessions, Guelli said.

This year’s half-price food deal produced about a 20 percent increase in general concessions over last year’s Dec. 26 home opener, when the Bobcats ran the same promotion coming out of the NBA lockout, Guelli said.
“I think we had a better promotional run-up,” he said. “Last year, we only had a 30-day window due to the lockout and by the time we finalized plans for the opener, less than that.”

The Bobcats do not expect to run half-price concessions on a regular basis but could run the same promotion or a “hybrid” of the same model from time to time. “Our season-ticket holders responded well,” Guelli said.

> SANDY AFTERMATH: MCU Park, the Brooklyn Cyclones’ minor league ballpark, suffered heavy damage from Hurricane Sandy but officials affiliated with the New York-Penn League team expect the 7,500-seat facility to be ready to go for the 2013 season.

“The stadium, like all of Coney Island, was significantly affected by the storm, high winds and related effects,” said Dave Howard, executive vice president of business operations for the New York Mets. The Mets own the Cyclones, their short-season Class A farm club.

“There is certainly some damage and loss of equipment,” Howard said. “The good news is the structural integrity of MCU Park was not affected. We have already begun the cleanup process [and] the parking lot is being used in the local recovery effort.”

As of last week, officials were still assessing the damage and did not have an estimate for how much repairs will cost, Howard said.

The city of New York owns the 11-year-old facility, which sits next to Coney Island amusement park.

The Mets and Aramark, their concessions partner at MCU Park and Citi Field, were assisting with food distribution to residents affected by the hurricane as part of New York’s disaster relief effort. Food donors receive discounts at the Citi Field team store run by Aramark.

There was scant information available on Sandy’s damage to Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the Staten Island Yankees and a stadium on the waterfront in that borough. High winds did strip ballpark scaffolding, according to one local report.

A group of four private investors owns the Staten Island club, a New York Yankees farm team. The city of New York also owns the Staten Island park.

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