Sunday, July 18, 2004

Bengals' new look scores even before season starts



By Cliff Peale
Enquirer staff writer

In one weekend in April - just days after the Cincinnati Bengals unveiled their new uniforms for the 2004 season - the team sold nearly 1,000 of the jerseys at $65 (replica) or $250 (authentic) each.

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That's nearly one-quarter of all the jerseys the team sold in its Pro Shop and Paul Brown Stadium apparel stands all last year.

So far this year, merchandise revenue has increased 246 percent compared with the same period last year, merchandise manager Monty Montague said.

He wouldn't give exact dollar amounts.

Montague attributes the demand to the better performance of the team, which went 8-8 last year after winning only two games in 2002.

About 15 percent of merchandise sales are via the team's Web site.

"Sometimes it's funny. If we're leading in a game, we can see (Internet) orders pop up during the game," Montague said.

"And there's a definite spike after winning games."

The Bengals keep the profits from apparel sold at the stadium, over the team Web site or through its catalog.

Apparel sold through other stores is routed through the National Football League merchandise program, and even those sales are increasing.

Sales of Bengals jerseys in those stores increased 20 percent to $4 million in 2003, while sales of hats more than doubled to $1.5 million, and T-shirt sales doubled to $1.4 million, according to SportScan INFO, a Florida-based sports marketing research tracker.

Those numbers do not include sales through the NFL's Internet site or apparel sold inside stadiums.

The Bengals are hoping to widen the revenue stream this season with a remodeling of the Paul Brown Stadium Pro Shop.

The team also is taking over merchandise operations at Georgetown Collegein Kentucky, where the Bengals open training camp July 30.




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