Local firms ready for record Super Bowl windfall

Even before it has been determined who will play in this year’s Super Bowl, two Indianapolis merchandise companies are in high gear preparing for the big game.

MainGate Inc. will be handling Super Bowl merchandise sales for the NFL at 34 hotels in New York and New Jersey in the week-long run-up to the Feb. 2 game. MainGate also will handle sales at Prudential Center for Media Day, and sources close to the league said a deal is pending for the Indianapolis-based company to manage merchandise sales on the cruise ship that will serve as the Bud Light Hotel, where 2,000 VIP’s will stay.

Indianapolis-based Lids Group recently announced that it has a deal with Macy’s and the NFL to operate a massive Super Bowl shop in New York City during Super Bowl week.

With 36,000 square feet of retail floor space, this year’s store, to be called NFL Shop at the Super Bowl, will be the largest such shop in NFL history.

Located on the 4th floor of Macy’s Herald Square, NFL Shop at the Super Bowl will offer an assortment of Super Bowl XLVIII merchandise including Nike and New Era on-field apparel and headwear as well as many unique and exclusive items only available at the location, Lids officials said.

To keep pace with the city that never sleeps, MainGate will keep its stores open around the clock, said President Dave Moroknek. MainGate will open its Super Bowl stores Jan. 25 and run them through the Monday after the big game.

“We’re confident, New York being what it is, that there will be traffic through these hotels 24 hours a day, and we want to be there to serve those people,” Moroknek said.

MainGate, which will have 300 workers in New York and New Jersey for the Super Bowl, already has two warehouses set up—one in Times Square and another in East Rutherford, N.J. MainGate sent its first shipment of goods to New York on Wednesday.

“It’s clear that New York is ready and the theme of the entire city is Super Bowl,” Moroknek said. “Everybody is talking about it, signs are up and you can see preparations are starting to hit full speed. Will it reach the level of Hoosier hospitality? I don’t think it can. But New York is warmer and kinder than it ever has been.”

The NFL doesn’t release sales figures, but league sources have suggested that projected merchandise sales for the NFL’s first Super Bowl in New York are three to four times greater than for any other Super Bowl in the game’s 48-year history. If the NFL hits its mark, merchandise sales for the Super Bowl alone could climb well over $50 million.

“New York is such a big market, and with the game being there for the first time, I think it’s going to be incredible,” Moroknek said.

There could be even more at stake for MainGate and Lids than sales at this year’s Super Bowl.

Sometime in March or April, NFL officials are expected to award contracts for upcoming Super Bowl merchandise deals. And unlike the last two Super Bowls, which were done as one-year deals, NFL sources said league honchos are contemplating a two- or three-year agreement.

How the companies perform at this year’s Super Bowl could go a long way toward determining who gets a piece of the next contract. NFL officials expect the bidding to be highly competitive. More than a dozen companies bid on the merchandising contracts for this year’s Super Bowl.

Before MainGate and Lids nudged their feet into the door at the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis, California-based Facilities Management Inc. had an exclusive Super Bowl merchandise deal with the NFL for the previous 23 seasons. FMI was shut out of the 2014 Super Bowl.

Buffalo, N.Y.-based Delaware North last year won the contract to sell merchandise at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford where this year’s Super Bowl will be played.

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