When Russell Wilson arrived in Orange Broncos, Derek Friedman pinched himself. Then he kicked into high gear.
“It was, ‘What the (expletive?), then it was the elation,’” Friedman, owner of the Sportsfan retail chain in greater Denver, recalled with a laugh.
“And then, ‘Oh my (gosh), we have such a lot of work to do. It’s a huge, huge thing for a company like this.
Friedman sells jerseys. And no one should move more jerseys or sporting goods around sport-mad Denver like Wilson will if the past two weeks are any indicator of what’s to come.
Welcome, Front Range fans, to the early stages of The Russell Wilson Effect.
Jersey sales are on the rise. The ticket market is tightening. And a city doesn’t just talk about the Super Bowl – a city honestly, sincerely, to reach those Super Bowls again.
Wilson’s Broncos No. 3 jersey has been the No. 1 seller among NFL players since the quarterback’s trade from Seattle to Denver was made official on March 16, a Fanatics spokesperson said. com at Post.
DangerRuss, nine-time Pro Bowler, is the tide lifting all Broncos-related economic boats, sparking the kind of orange-and-blue buzz that hasn’t filtered through the community since former Denver quarterback Peyton Manning played here. At Friedman stores, for example, that meant doubling orders for not just Wilson-related merchandise, but all Broncos-related inventory.
“Now you’re going to have absolutely packed stadiums, overflowing crowds,” Friedman said of RussMania. “People are going to start watching the Broncos on local TV again. We’re going to go to Broncos watch parties, and we’re going to wear clothes for Broncos watch parties. All ships go up (in this tide).
“That means our children’s section probably needs to be quadrupled. Our women’s section, we will be three times bigger (like in 2021). Hoodies. Your. Jewelry. We got out of the Broncos shoe business. And (last week) I was buying women’s knee-high boots with the Broncos logo on them.
“It’s going to be huge”
What a difference a year makes. Especially when it comes to quarterbacks and a city that can’t stop talking about it.
In the spring of 2021, Broncos Country was a bitterly divided nation. The team had acquired veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater just before the NFL Draft last April to compete with young starter Drew Lock for the starting position.
The rest of the calendar year saw one of sports’ best fanbases split into two camps: Team Teddy and Team Drew. Social media, as with politics and culture, has only amplified the polarization.
No more. In one of the intangibles that comes with The Russell Wilson Effect, the two sides are now united behind a QB and under one flag: Team Russ. Let’s roll.
“With the way (Wilson) has played on the court and how he has portrayed himself off the court,” noted Russ Spielman, sports marketing specialist and senior executive vice president at GSE Worldwide, “it’s going to be great. .”
It will be great for the Broncos too. Especially when it comes to the bottom line.
Already the hottest sports ticket in town, a seat at Empower Field at Mile High is likely to become one of the most coveted of any NFL market this fall. Online ticket retailer Vivid Seats told The Post that from March 1-24, traffic to the site Broncos page increased by 465% compared to the same period in March 2021 – and this is happening weeks before the publication of the league’s finalized schedule.
“If there are entrepreneurial opportunities as well, I think those will increase,” Spielman said. “And I think the sponsors will want to tie into another Super Bowl run. I would expect Russell to have such good marketing (portfolio) that some of his own business partners might follow.
In a study of 1,000 fans in 2021 by Wakefield Research Partnersa consulting firm that has partnered with nearly a dozen NFL teams, among 73 players who endorsed apparel, headphones and beer, Wilson ranked second among all endorsers in is about the public correctly identifying the brand they support.
“I don’t think (the Broncos) had any issues with ticket sales,” said Kirk Wakefield, director of research at Wakefield Research Partners and professor at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business. “But (it) should sell them a lot…. And I’d say most fans would gladly pay for it.”
And expect Sundays with 10,000 to 15,000 away fans to end.
“Winning adds more passionate fans”
To that end, Wakefield also cited a recent study which found that 70% of Broncos fans are what he defines as “very passionate” – a status that puts them in the top 20% of all North American professional teams. and on par among their NFL peers. , with the Cowboys, Packers and Chiefs.
“And that’s even with suffering for five straight losing years,” Wakefield added. “Winning adds more passionate fans. Which translates into better attendance, TV ratings, and referral dollars.
Friedman doesn’t need a consultant to figure out that last part. He has already seen the Russell Wilson effect with his own eyes. It’s Manning again.
“When Manning came along (in 2012) it obviously had a pretty big impact on sales of jerseys and shirts – there were a lot of things that came out with Manning’s name on them,” the retailer recalled. “And it wasn’t (just) the people of Denver and the locals. They were people from all over the country, and even from outside the country, especially from Latin America and Europe.
“Because the Broncos fans are there too, but they’re a little more laid back and they’re not going to spend the money to travel when the team has losing seasons…and buy all the hotel (rooms) and things. that come with a special trip to Denver. We’re expecting a really significant impact in terms of people coming back from a break and hibernation.