So I'm taking the weekly "Pampers and wipes" pilgrimage to Target the other day, and make my weekly stop by the "Team Store" aisle. If you're unaware of what this is, it's half an aisle near the toys/sporting goods section of every Target store that typically has super-cheap, moderate-quality team merchandise for local pro and college teams. I travel a lot for my Day Job, so I usually will stop by a store to grab some souvenir tees for myself, who am I kidding? my kids. If you didn't know this existed, you should. It's awesome!
The aisle at my Silver Spring Target is seasonal, but you'll find Skins gear year round, and Caps, Nats, O's, Ravens, and Terrapins stuff 9 times out of 10. One thing I've never, ever, ever seen? Wizards gear. Of any kind. Ever. Pre-rebrand or post-rebrand, doesn't matter. It's almost like this team doesn't even exist.
It sorta makes me wonder if Monumental Sports does enough to push its product as a whole, because (as any aspiring rapper knows!) if you aren't hot in your own hometown, why should anyone care? If you didn't actively follow this team, you'd barely know it's even around, because the local newscasters treat the Wizards (before this year's playoff run, at least) like they're one notch above DC United. Local sports talk radio hosts spend more time on the US Open and college football, even when the Wiz are relevant. If you watch Wizards broadcasts on CSN (all 9,000 of you!) then you've undoubtedly seen lead-ins for Sports Talk Live where Brian Mitchell will talk about the Redskins directly after a Wizards win! BTW, have you tried finding Wizards gear at your local Footlocker? Good luck with that.
In short, this team lost $13M last year, despite playing in a major media market with a fun, moderately successful team because it simply doesn't try to "sell" its product. At all. I mean, think about it: have you ever seen a commercial for Wizards season tickets that wasn't on CSN? Doesn't it sorta seem like 106.7 The Fan only discusses the team because it's contractually obligated to do so? If I'm a free agent, I'm looking at a number of factors when evaluating landing spots, and local engagement is surely on the list. When you look at the team's middling attendance numbers, sleepy midseason crowds, and empty seats during playoff games, that's not exactly a sign of a rabid fanbase.
Maybe I'm overblowing this, but I'm wondering if anyone else reads this the same way? Does Ted do a good enough job "selling" his product, and what should he do if he isn't?