Ravens' pitch selling nationwide

Merchandise sales up 40 percent in 3 weeks

team thinking retail

January 26, 2001|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla. -- Ravens team merchandise is selling at a respectable pace nationwide when compared with products associated with the better-known New York Giants, NFL officials said yesterday.

Giants merchandise is selling one-fifth better than the Ravens' logo, but the Baltimore team has seen a 40 percent increase in nationwide sales during the past three weeks, said Brian McCarthy, a National Football League spokesman.

Ravens fans in Baltimore are also buying much more of their team's merchandise than what Giants fans in New York are buying, when sales figures are adjusted to population differences, McCarthy said.

"The more people see [the Ravens] and the stories behind the team, the more people want to identify and purchase their merchandise," McCarthy said. "As the team progresses through the Super Bowl, they will not only become known nationwide, but worldwide."

Though the Giants still have an overall edge in sales, McCarthy said much of their success stems from New York's larger population and the team's long history in the NFL.

"The Giants had a 75-year-plus head start in the NFL," he said.

Dennis Mannion, vice president of marketing and business development for the Ravens, said team officials -- who have been aggressively marketing the two-year-old Ravens logo -- are elated by the increased sales.

"It is especially meaningful to us because of our short tenure in the NFL and the fact that we just went through a logo change," Mannion said. "People who were peripheral fans are jumping aboard."

The Ravens' logo changed in 1999 after a trademark dispute.

But the surge in sales of the logo will not translate into more money for the team, NFL officials said. The NFL owns the rights to Ravens merchandise, so all profits are split among the league's 31 teams.

The NFL, which offers 1,000 products, sells $3 billion worth of merchandise a year, according to the Licensing Letter, a New York trade publication.

Mannion said the Ravens, looking to capitalize on their new popularity, are considering opening their own retail outlets.

Ravens stores or kiosks, which would be operated by the team, would enable the organization to keep more profits from merchandise sales, instead of having to split them with the other NFL teams.

"The good news is this puts us in a position to get into the retail business," Mannion said, noting it could generate $1 million to $2 million a year for the Ravens. "I don't think we had the legs before this year to do that, but this should give us a pretty good base to explore that business."

So far, sales of Ravens merchandise in Tampa have been mixed.

Fred Meyer, owner of the Super Bowl store in Tampa's upscale Old Hyde Park Village shopping district, said Ravens items are outselling Giants material by eight to one.

"New York is tainted. They have won so many things, this is one more thing," Meyer said. Meyer and several Tampa other residents said the city is rooting for the Ravens because of starting quarterback Trent Dilfer, who used to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But Cathy McKelvie of CZ Sports Marketing said Ravens merchandise has been a tough sell at her store, which is located near Raymond James Stadium.

"You kind of almost have to be from Baltimore to like the Ravens," McKelvie said. "New York is more of America's town."

Ronnie Dillion, a 27-year-old employee at Nothing But Lids, which specializes in NFL team hats, said "a lot more" people have been buying Giants hats.

"I never even heard of the Baltimore Ravens until last year," Dillion said with a sneer.

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