I stopped by the Phan Shop at the PPL Center this morning to check out the new Phantoms jerseys. I’m not a huge lover of the color orange, but these alternate sweaters, announced yesterday, are pretty sharp. Plus, on the “orange-out” nights, I wouldn’t need to pull on the free T-Shirt to add to the effect. The Phantoms will be wearing these sweaters for Friday night games for the remainder of the season, I’ve heard. I’ve also heard that they are doing the customization now, so I had the thought of getting a name and number on the sweater. Perhaps Gostisbehere–unless they charge by the letter, in which case: Alt. The “lace up” look is cool as well. In any case, it was worth a drive by on my day off today to check it out.
As I arrived, I was a little early. I decided to check out Timmie’s. I’ve heard great things about the coffee. However, the lines are always so long before and during the games, I haven’t wanted to venture inside. The coffee was very good. I’m no coffee expert, but I sure drink a ton of it; I appreciate a good cup. I had the dark roast, which was plenty robust while still maintaining more than a modicum of smoothness. As consistent with their reputation, it was freshly brewed.
Alas, I couldn’t pull the trigger on the jersey, though. It is the CCM “Premier” version similar to the white home jerseys and the black away that are currently on sale. They are made in Canada. The material is very thin, and the seams are not finished very nicely on the inside. The price was $124.99, which would have been more with customization, and then perhaps discounted a bit with my season ticket holder discount.
I already have the black version of this jersey, and although it hasn’t been customized and lacks the draw strings at the collar, I feel like purchasing the orange one would be somewhat redundant. Plus, I’m not terribly happy with the black one. The material is thin and the jersey not terribly comfortable. I paid the full $125 for it. I didn’t get the season ticket holder discount–I asked for it but just as the young man at the register was about to apply it, the store manager came over and said, “We’re not doing that yet.” It was just before the season started, I guess, and that was the problem. Later, I was able to use my discount to purchase some Christmas presents at the Phan Shop.
But, I digress. I want to support the sale of authentic jerseys. I have an authentic Phantoms jersey from the Adirondack days, which I purchased on ebay. It’s a Reebok-branded jersey, also made in Canada (I believe Reebok owns CCM in some way). The weight of the material, quality of construction, look and feel are so much better than the “Premier” versions. And it’s not close. I really think the Phantoms should stock a few authentic-level sweaters in the Phan shop–even if they can’t be customized as easily as the replicas. And that’s what those “premier” things are, you know: Replicas.
The case against the authentic jerseys: Price (of course!) NHL replicas are around $170 and authentics around $250. It seems that the Phantoms authentics could be sold for around $240 or so, without customization. Most authentic jerseys on ebay are between $200-$300. Would Phantoms fans purchase authentic jerseys? I bet they would. Maybe not a lot–but enough to support the stock of a few of each size and style. I know it’s a bit different with “game worn” jerseys, but consider how much some of those Eagles-themed jerseys fetched at auction: Stolarz’ went for >$1,000 and Hextall’s was close.
I know, that’s a lot of money. No, I should say it’s a $#@& lot of money. Think about it–other than sports jerseys, do you own any shirts or blouses for which you paid more than $75? Probably not many. I know I don’t. Perhaps a jacket or two. But, the jersey is not only the uniform of the player, it’s the uniform of the fan as well. That’s a whole other blog post, though. Let’s just say I love wearing a jersey to the game to show my support for my team while I’m at the game. I’m not a collector, though. Our friend Rick is, and I know another guy from Twitter who has perhaps hundreds of jerseys. I’ve got enough IronPigs/Phantoms/Steelers jerseys to be able to wear one to a game and have a few extra to display at my office or in my cave.
The IronPigs have authentic jerseys in stock at the Majestic Clubhouse Store. They have a few of all the designs: The home white, the Friday black, the Saturday bacon, the Sunday powder blue pullover, and the away gray “Lehigh.” You can’t get them customized as the numbers and letters need to be sewn on rather than applied via heat transfer as with the replicas. However, I think you can use BSN Sports in Bethlehem–the former Bethlehem Sporting Goods–to have numbers and letters sewn on. They did my Sunday IronPigs “powder blue” and did a very nice job at a very reasonable price. It did take some time, though, and as Rick pointed out to me: the numbers and letters are not exactly the same as the on-field versions on the players’ jerseys. Those authentic letters and numbers may be available by special order through the Clubhouse Store though, if you check with the store manager (as of this writing, that job may be available…). As with the hockey jersey, I find the authentic baseball jerseys look nicer, feel nicer, are more comfortable to wear, and more durable than their replica counterparts. For the IronPigs, the replicas are manufactured by Majestic and the authentics by Wilson, currently–both in the USA. I prefer the Majestic fleeces to the Jansport, but prefer the Wilson jerseys.
With SteelHawks season on the horizon, I’ll have to explore what they offer. With a more permanent and nicer home in the PPL Center, I hope the SteelHawks will expand their gear offerings. Football jerseys present a somewhat different dilemma though: some of the authentic/on field gear is made not only to fit over pads, but to prevent holding and perform for the players’ specific positional needs. Thus the sleeves and cut of the jersey can be a bit funny compared with a more garment-like jersey. There are replica jerseys for NFL teams, of course, but they usually have stamped on printed numbers and lettering which washes off after a few times through the laundry. The weathered look can be cool, depending on how you feel about washing your lucky jersey. Authentic NFL jerseys are now $300 or so. The NFL’s uniform partner (it seems to change quite frequently these days) has a solution: A mid-level jersey with better construction and stitched-on letters and numbers. The price is higher than the replicas, but not as high as the authentics. And, the cut and fit of the garment is more natural for those of us who are certainly not athletes.
One other recent development, the NFL has started an advertising campaign to raise awareness for officially licensed gear. You can sometimes purchase unlicensed gear directly from China which can be much, much cheaper. As Dan pointed out the other day, this advertising campaign would make more sense and ring more true if the licensed items weren’t so darn expensive. Some of the imported goods can be of good quality–but some of it is almost a joke. Plus, the overseas transactions can be problematic as well. It’s surprising, though, that the NFL has decided to address the issue–and it’s ludicrous that they claim their licensed gear will “help the team.” The teams have plenty of money–no one loses football games in the NFL due to “lack of money.” Crimony. When I say I want to support my local teams, I’m not even saying that from a financial way–although I’m sure they appreciate my money, I’m speaking more about physical support.
But back to the Phantoms: I still think they should carry authentic-level jerseys. I’m NOT saying anyone really has to buy them, but that they should be available as a choice. And, based on the prices I see online and the jersey-auction prices, I think they’ll sell more than just the one that I’ll buy.
See you at the arena,