SPORTS MainGate feasts on Lions

Locally based MainGate Inc. is getting a big boost from its new contract with the Detroit Lions. MainGate signed a 10-year deal in February to manage the Lions’ retail shop at Ford Field and the team’s retail Web site.

On April 20, the Lions introduced an updated team logo and jersey, and Main-Gate unveiled a revamped Web site at

“We had more than 22,000 visitors and took more than 300 orders in the first 24 hours since the new Web site went live,” said MainGate CEO Dave Moroknek. “Normally, this time of year, an NFL team [store] site would have about 1,000 visitors a day. So we’re really pleased with the results so far.”

Within the first 30 minutes of the site’s going live, Moroknek said, it had orders from New York, California, Hawaii and a h a nd f u l of other far-flung states. Orders were

taken from 10 countries in the first 24 hours after the site launch, he added.

MainGate began redesigning the Lions’ retail space at Ford Field two days after the NCAA Final Four concluded in Detroit earlier this month. The store will have a grand reopening April 25 in conjunction with the National Football League draft. The Lions have the overall No. 1 selection.

“We think that draft selection is really going to boost sales for us,” Moroknek said.

MainGate has thousands of blank Lions jerseys at Reebok’s Indianapolis plant, Moroknek said, and when the draft selection is made, local Reebok workers will begin printing the products.

MainGate gets a flat fee to manage the Lions’ retail business, plus a percentage of the sales. MainGate has deals with three other NFL teams: the Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.

MainGate, founded in 1963, made its mark in NHRA drag racing. Now, the firm does business for the Indy Racing League, Danica Patrick, golfer Jack Nicklaus, NCAA, Harley-Davidson, Budweiser King Racing, John Force Racing and many other well-known brands.

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