Manning injury could sack Colts stores’ sales

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The impact of Peyton Manning’s potentially season-ending neck injury is being felt far and wide in the Horseshoe Kingdom.

Indianapolis-based MainGate Inc., which operates Indianapolis Colts stores in Circle Centre mall and Lucas Oil Stadium as well as online, is bracing for the inevitable ripple effect. Colts kiosks in Greenwood Park Mall and Castleton Square Mall open Nov. 1.

Manning’s goods represent about 8 percent to 9 percent of all Colts items sold.

“It’s a good piece of business,” said MainGate CEO Dave Moroknek.

In years past, MainGate sold about 80 percent of everything it carried that bore Manning’s likeness or his No. 18—from jerseys to shot glasses.

“We think the sell-through rate could drop to 60 [percent] to 65 percent,” Moroknek said. “But it’s all speculation. We’ve never been in this situation before. I expect we’ll start getting a feel for how things will go starting today.”

Until Thursday, when news broke about Manning undergoing another neck surgery, many Colts fans held out hope he would miss only a game or two.

Moroknek has no intention of decreasing the number of Manning-related items the stores carry.

“Typically, when a player gets injured and is going to be out an extended period, his stuff is moved to the back of the rack pretty quickly,” Moroknek said. “But with Peyton, we think it could be different. He’s still Mr. Colt, and the face of the franchise. He’s not your typical player.”

Moroknek laughed at the notion of discounting Manning-related goods.

“We think Peyton Manning is the type of player who will have a broad appeal even after his playing days are over,” Moroknek said. “We still sell a lot of John Riggins items in the Washington D.C. market.”

Riggins, a running back who is an NFL Hall of Famer, retired from the Redskins in 1985.

MainGate handles merchandising for the Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans in addition to the Colts.

Even more uncertain is how Kerry Collins items will sell in Indianapolis. Right now, MainGate is only stocking a few Collins jerseys. More are on order, and Moroknek is evaluating what other Collins-related items he’ll carry. He said the line likely won’t be extensive.

“It really all depends primarily on how well the team does with him in there,” Moroknek said. “And how well the fans like him.”

Moroknek has seen a mixed bag in other markets when a new player emerges. He said that when Brett Favre replaced Tavaris Jackson in Minnesota, sales skyrocketed. But when Rex Grossman replaced Donovan McNabb last year in Washington, sales plummeted. This year, McNabb’s new Minnesota jersey is selling quite well, Moroknek said.

Matt Hasselbeck, Kerry Collins’ replacement in Tennessee, also is selling well this year, Moroknek said.

One thing that could stall sales of Collins goods here is the likelihood that this will be his only year in Indianapolis. This year, the Colts will pay Collins $4 million. His contract, should it be picked up, calls for him to be paid $10 million next year. Most hope Manning will be back for 2012, and if he’s not, Collins, at 38, doesn’t seem a good choice to be a long-term solution for the Colts.

Since the sale of Collins goods probably won’t make up for the drop in Manning wares, Moroknek is hopeful that his stores’ new line of Super Bowl items will more than make up for the loss.

“We’re fortunate to have the Super Bowl in Indianapolis this year,” Moroknek said. “Those items are getting a fair bit of interest.”

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