SUPER SALESLegends’ retail operation for Super Bowl LVII extended to the Super Bowl Experience at the Phoenix Convention Center. (Courtesy vendor)

No local team equals increased spend

Looks can be deceiving. Super Bowl LVII merchandise sales increased by 14% over last year’s event, which is noteworthy, considering State Farm Stadium has a much smaller retail footprint than SoFi Stadium, the site of last year’s game, according to officials with Legends, the NFL’s official Super Bowl retailer.

No per caps were available, but the numbers internally show that merchandise sales for the Feb. 12 event were among the highest in Super Bowl history for a full capacity crowd, said Steve Marinchak, Legends’ vice president of special event retail. Marinchak, working his ninth Super Bowl, spent 30 years with Aramark before moving to Legends two years ago.

“A big part of it was due to our first full year back from COVID since 2019 in Miami, where we had every activation going on with the NFL throughout Phoenix,” Marinchak said.

Super Bowl LV in Tampa produced an $80 retail per cap for Legends, which stands as the record spend for an NFL championship game, but put an asterisk next to that number. The game was played during the pandemic when the crowd was restricted to about 25,000 fans, resulting in shorter lines and quicker speed of service. The last two Super Bowls have been at full capacity.

By comparison, SoFi Stadium’s team store, where Legends runs the merchandise full time, spans 15,000 square feet. That’s bigger than the combined square footage of State Farm Stadium’s 5,000-square-foot main team store and two secondary outlets, both measuring about 500 square feet, Marinchak said.

“Phoenix was a totally different layout than LA,” Marinchak said. “SoFi is a newer building and more retail-friendly. We have nine stores there. Phoenix has three stores and they’re very small, so for us to be able to do the volume we did that was comparable to last year, was remarkable.”

This year’s merchandise sales were up 30% over Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, the last time the game took place in Glendale, Arizona. In addition, week-long sales at multiple NFL Shops locations, extending from Scottsdale to Goodyear, were up 38% year over year. Those outlets include the NFL Experience at the Phoenix Convention Center, where Legends set up a 30,000-square-foot store.

Another factor driving sales in Arizona was the absence of a local team playing in the Super Bowl, unlike the last two seasons, Marinchak said. This year, many fans traveled to Phoenix as part of a vacation, which translates to a greater influx of out-of-town visitors spending more money, Marinchak said. The mix of fans was 60-40 in favor of the Eagles over the Chiefs, he said.

“There was a bigger contingent of Philly fans and they definitely came out to spend,” Marinchak said. “I worked the Super Bowl in Minnesota (in 2018) and no fans showed up until the day before the game because of the blizzard that hit up there. This year was different, because they had to come out and celebrate in Arizona.”

At State Farm Stadium, Legends reported 65% of game day business occurred within the four hour window prior to kickoff, after fans passed through security and had their tickets scanned, which is an incredible stat, he said. Legends had 36 retail locations on site, with 10 trailers and six express pop-up shops outside the building to supplement the three stores inside the venue. 

RUN ON RIHANNA: Super Bowl LVII merchandise sold by Legends included items tied to halftime performer Rihanna’s apparel line. (Courtesy vendor)

Hot items were NFL collaborations with halftime performer Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty brand, NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan’s Starter jackets and broadcaster Erin Andrews’ Wear line of women’s apparel. 

“A few years ago, the NFL did something with The Weeknd, but it was very minimal, online only and just a few items,” Marinchak said. “This year, there was a full selection from headwear to jerseys, beanies and makeup.”

Legends now prepares for Super Bowl LVIII next February at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, the first time the NFL championship has been held in the gambling capital of America. The Las Vegas Raiders run the league’s biggest team store at 20,000 square feet with 40 points of sale, which could set more records for Super Bowl retail.

“It’s huge,” Marinchak said.

Legends is starting to lay the groundwork for partnering with MGM, Caesars and Resorts World to run retail pop-ups at those casinos. The NFL Experience is tentatively set for Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, although there has been no official announcement, Marinchak said. 

Apart from Allegiant Stadium, Legends and the NFL are partners in NFL Las Vegas Presented by Visa, a retail space at The Forum shops at Caesars Palace that opened in January 2022. The store carries gear from all 32 teams, but the focus will be on Super Bowl merchandise over the second half of 2023 leading up to the game.

“Usually, the release date for Super Bowl isn’t until Nov. 1 to start selling, but we’re working with the league to do something earlier,” he said. “The store is there already and it’s open. The new logo was released last week and it can take three to four months to get product from overseas.”