Apparently no one wants to be the only fan in the stands wearing an old Florida Marlins jersey.
Sales of Miami Marlins shirts, jerseys and hats at the first three games in the new ballpark eclipsed total sales last season, said Sean Flynn, senior vice president of marketing for the Marlins.
“The fans have fallen in love with the brand,” Flynn said. “It’s impressive, to say the least.”
Nationwide, Sports Authority reported that Miami Marlins gear has outsold all other team merchandise this quarter, including that of teams from other sports, said Howard Smith, senior vice president of licensing for Major League Baseball.
“We’ve had upwards of 15 teams change their uniform or total [look] this year, but the Marlins are No. 1,” Smith said. “Nothing has matched the intensity of this.”
Historically, Marlins merchandise has fallen into the lower half of sales when ranked against that of other major-league teams, Smith said. Since December, Marlins merchandise sales have skyrocketed, and the team is now one of MLB’s top sellers, he said. MLB and the Marlins do not release sales figures.
At the Marlins’ home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, fans stood in lines that wrapped through the ballpark to buy hats, jerseys and other accessories.
“This is one of the hottest re-image projects I’ve ever worked on,” said Smith, who has worked with MLB for 14 years. “They really hit a home run.”
The orange jerseys and block-lettering “M” trimmed with orange, yellow, black and blue weren’t immediately so popular. Images of the logo leaked in November, and fans hesitated.
“At first I wasn’t a huge fan, I just thought it was way too colorful and completely different,” said John Haywood, a longtime Marlins fan from Fort Lauderdale. “Now I’m fine with it. I realize the team is trying to brand itself with the Miami look.”
Haywood bought a new Marlins hat in December, just after the new line hit stores. He bought a new jersey two weeks before opening night.
Miami Marlins sales were slow in the beginning for Globall Sports, a sporting goods store in the Boynton Beach Mall, store manager Chris Mallave said.
“When it first came out, everyone was kind of sketchy about it,” Mallave said. “Then Christmas came around, and we sold more. Now they’re the hottest items in the store.”
Hats have been the best seller among Marlins items at Sports Authority stores in South Florida, said David Trujillo, director of sales and operations for the retailer’s southern region.
“If they have a season like the Miami Heat did last year, it will be a very good year for the Marlins, as far as sales go,” Trujillo said.
And the suspension of team manager Ozzie Guillen, could that dampen things?
“No,” Flynn said. “As we introduce fresh concepts and new items, sales will continue to be strong all season long.”