Eagles Winning Merchandise War as Foles Bobbleheads Up 900%By and
Backup quarterback’s popularity takes retailers by surprise
Super Bowl expected to generate $338 million in spending
The stock market should be so lucky: As Philadelphia fans gear up for their team’s Feb. 4 face-off with the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, the price of bobblehead dolls for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has soared 900 percent.
The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, and when they last went 13 years ago, they lost to the Patriots. Add Foles’s breakout success in the playoffs after star Carson Wentz went down with an injury Dec. 10, and you have a rush on his midnight green jersey. And the bobbleheads, originally $29.99, are going for nearly $300.
“With the injury and then his good performance, it all kind of happened pretty quickly,” said Brian Michael, co-owner of Shibe Vintage Sports in Philadelphia. “Now everyone wants what is barely available. That’s driving up the price.”
National retailers are seeing the same phenomenon. Fans have bought so much gear since the Eagles clinched a Super Bowl spot that they’ve set records for Fanatics Inc., the world’s biggest seller of sports merchandise. “The popularity of Nick Foles items have been a key factor,” said Jack Boyle, co-president of its direct-to-consumer business.
The game is expected to generate more than $338 million in spending, according to Rockport Analytics. Those kinds of numbers often make it a win for the host city. Last year’s contest -- New England’s fifth Super Bowl victory -- brought about $428 million in new spending to the Greater Houston area, the market-research firm said.
About 125,000 visitors are expected to descend on Minneapolis this weekend, generating $29 million in taxes. It may go higher since estimates had allowed for the possibility the hometown Vikings would be in it, said Kenneth McGill, Rockport’s managing director. So many fans are flying out that American Airlines, the official airline of the Eagles, has added more nonstop flights to Minneapolis for the game. Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and others have as well.
The event is arguably the U.S.’s biggest annual extravaganza. Over the last two decades, Super Bowls have been the highest rated television shows, drawing more than triple the number of viewers to last year’s game than Major League Baseball’s World Series.
U.S. Bank Stadium, which features a Viking longboat, sits in the middle of downtown surrounded by restaurants, high-dollar condominiums and churches. The dearth of event space forced organizers to reach out to places of worship and funeral homes as potential party spots.
Celebrity-heavy soirees will feature $650 shots of 40-year-old scotch and hot new acts, such as Rolling Stone magazine’s Feb. 2 bash with hip-hop band Migos and rapper 21 Savage. The local armory, until recently a parking garage, will host concerts by Pink, Imagine Dragons and Jennifer Lopez.
New England’s dominance fills some with loathing that may swell the Bleeding Green nation’s numbers temporarily, but Pats fans say they don’t care. The grousing is just envy, said Sean Glennon, a journalist and football historian who’s written a book about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“The Patriots have their five rings,” Glennon said. “And they are about to have their sixth ring, and anybody who doesn’t like that is just jealous.”
The Eagles got to the Super Bowl via two upsets, and players and fans have embraced their underdog status by donning masks found on Amazon.com as creepydogmask. German Shepherd heads sold out during the playoff run.
There’s so much demand for Eagles stuff that Nike Inc., the NFL’s official jersey maker, is telling retailers its stock has been wiped out, according to Bob Hart, owner of Al’s Sporting Goods in Wilmington, Delaware. “They didn’t expect the Eagles to make it this far, so they didn’t order extra jerseys,’’ he said.
PrimeSport, an Atlanta-based travel company, is offering travel packages for fans. The priciest Philadelphia trip goes for about $6,800 per person. It includes airfare, hotel room, game ticket and a tailgate party featuring ex-NFL stars such as receivers Cris Carter and Sterling Sharpe.
That’s too pricey for the Friess family, who will drive there from Delaware. “We may never get another chance to see them win a Super Bowl,” said Lori Friess, a master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force National Guard. “Win or lose, they’ve had a great season. But I hope to goodness they win.”
Longtime Eagles fan Jerry Waddington’s family also is heading to Minneapolis, but with divided loyalties. His niece is married to Jim Develin, the Patriots’ Pro Bowl fullback. Waddington, an IT director for consulting firm Accenture Plc, says he’s shelling out about $5,000 for airfare, hotel and game ticket.
Some question why Eagles fans would pay top price to go when the Patriots are favored by four and a half points. The Philadelphia suburb resident has a simple answer.
“This time, it feels right,” Waddington said. “The defense is playing out of its mind, and I think they are going to win it this time.”
— With assistance by Michelle Cortez, and Eben Novy-Williams