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Sports Business

NY Super Bowl huge moneymaker, but can't top Indy for atmosphere

February 5, 2014

The Seattle Seahawks weren’t the only ones scoring big at this year’s Super Bowl.

NFL merchandise sales were two to three times higher at this year’s Super Bowl than at previous Super Bowls, according to league sources. That’s good news for two Indianapolis-based companies.

MainGate Inc. operated kiosks at 33 New York/New Jersey area hotels, at the Bud Light Cruise Ship and at the Prudential Center for media day. Lids Corp. operated a Super Bowl store within Macy’s in Herald Square.

IBJ caught up with MainGate CEO Dave Moroknek on Monday afternoon as he was closing the last of his Super Bowl operations. He had some interesting observations, starting with his thoughts on having the big game in the Big Apple.

“From an atmosphere standpoint, I think Indianapolis was well above New York,” Moroknek said. “For a single event to make a really big impact, New York is just too big. If you got 10 blocks away from the Super Bowl Boulevard in any direction, you didn’t even know the Super Bowl was in town. In Indianapolis, the Super Bowl atmosphere was everywhere.”

People far and wide apparently have not forgotten the 2012 Super Bowl hosted in Indianapolis.

“I can’t tell you how many people we ran into who found out we were from Indianapolis, and said that was the best Super Bowl ever,” Moroknek said. There were problems with logistics in New York, and it was more expensive to do business, Moroknek said. “The buildings are all so close together, there’s a massive amount of people and traffic, we had problems getting to our loading docks and all kinds of issues,” he said.

MainGate, which had 300 employees in New York and New Jersey for the week of the Super Bowl, had to change its transportation strategy, making all deliveries between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“You simply can’t drive a semi around Manhattan,” Moroknek said. “We had to rely entirely on box trucks. This will be the most difficult and costly Super Bowl to do.”

Still, Moroknek isn’t complaining. He said it was those throngs of people who pushed sales so high. Sports licensing experts expect more than $200 million in Super Bowl merchandise to be sold this year. Though Moroknek isn’t saying how much his company made on the Super Bowl, experts said it likely was a healthy six-figure sum.

This is MainGate’s fourth Super Bowl, and Moroknek hopes to bid on a multi-year contract to handle merchandise sales for the big game in the next couple of months. The NFL is expected to release bid specifications within 60 days.

MainGate’s top five kiosks in terms of sales were at (in order) the Sheraton in Times Square, which was the media hotel; the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue, which housed many of the corporate VIPs; the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which was the NFL headquarters hotel; the 1,800-room Marriott Marquis; and the Crown Plaza at 49th and Broadway, which was the headquarters for the NFL ticket exchange program.

New Yorkers weren’t the only ones flocking to the game. Seahawks fans outnumbered Broncos fans 2-1, Moroknek said. That, he added, pushed the sale of Seahawks gear far ahead of Broncos items.

“Even before they won, Seattle items were far outselling Denver,” he said. “After their victory, everything Seattle sold. I’m standing here with virtually nothing for Seattle left.”

Interestingly, the fashion-conscious crowd and women seemed drawn to Seahawks gear. “Lots of fans there were just here for the game who didn’t necessarily have a rooting interest were buying Seahawks items,” Moroknek said. “They especially sold well with women. They like the blue-green color combination.”

Goods touting the match-up were the second-best seller. Generic items with the Super Bowl logo were the third-best selling category and Broncos-related items were next.

Generic Super Bowl related items sold much better in Indianapolis than they did in New York, Moroknek noted. “We had a very active local fan base patronizing the Super Bowl in Indianapolis,” he said.

With any luck, MainGate will get to work another Super Bowl in Indianapolis. The Circle City is bidding in May at the NFL owners meeting against Minneapolis and New Orleans to host the game in 2018.

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