As the Cincinnati Bengals set up shop in Los Angeles preparing for Super Bowl LVI, the community is still feeling the impact of the incredible run that has gotten them to this point.
Local merchandise shops are selling out of product faster they can produce it, bars and restaurants are reaching capacity, and just about any other business you can connect to football has seen an uptick. After 31 years, businesses got to see the direct impact on their bottom line that can come from a football team’s success.
As you’ve heard players and coaches in interviews for the last month, they are really rallying behind bringing this sort of energy to the city. Taylor said in the summer that the city would be proud of this team, and he has delivered on that promise all season.
After the Wild Card round win against the Las Vegas Raiders, head coach Zac Taylor finally got to start the tradition he envisioned three years ago when he arrived in Cincinnati. Players, coaches and Taylor himself started delivering game balls to businesses in the Cincinnati area.
In an interview with NBC Sports, Taylor expanded on how the vision came to life:
“You’ll drive through, late on a Thursday night, Friday night, or coming home on a Sunday night from a road game or home game,” Taylor said. “Just packed. That’s not something we really get to experience during the season, people celebrating games. I always kind of dreamed of big moments and being able to go in there and share that with the people. They’ve been through a lot here. Some really fun moments that I got to enjoy with a lot of really cool people.”
Immediately after snapping the playoff drought, Taylor put his money where his mouth is and delivered a game ball to team owner Mike Brown and had five others ready to be handed out throughout the city.
The tradition has continued after each playoff victory, with five game balls being distributed throughout the city. The obvious excitement for patrons in the businesses when a member of the Bengals organization walks in his awesome, and it has lead to higher attendance for the local bars. A Facebook post read, “You never know who’s going to stop by.”
Social media posts from fans across the area have shown them trying to guess the right spot and time to be somewhere when a game ball is delivered. With all but one playoff game on the road and many fans not able to follow the team due to increasingly high ticket prices, Cincinnati area sports bars and restaurants have been packed for game days, bringing in plenty of revenue after what has been a trying two years for small businesses.
Watering holes aren’t the only ones seeing an impact on their bottom line. Several local merchandisers who create everything from clothing to car decals have been pushing to keep up with demand for Bengals gear as a postseason full of nicknames being born and quotes being written.
LFGCincy is a Cincinnati-based vendor that specializes in apparel for Cincinnati sports teams and attire to represent Cincinnati pride. The company, owned by Ben Galluzzo and Cam Shafer, has been working day and night to keep up with demand and have fans geared up for Super Bowl Sunday.
I spoke with Galluzzo, who was kind enough to expand on their experience, noting that he was working through the night to fulfill orders.
“Yeah, we’re working all day and night to get the orders out,” Galluzzo said. “After the AFC Championship, business blew up. We’ve received more orders this past week than we did all year, and we thought we had a pretty good year. It’s been a huge win-win for us as huge Bengals fans, not only do we get to watch our guys in the Super Bowl, but we get to swag out Bengals Nation in the process. We really appreciate all the love and support we’ve received this past week. We just opened up a shop in Norwood last month, so if you’re looking for some last-second gear, come check us out. Super Bowl Champs gear coming soon. LFG,” Galluzzo said.
Demand doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon, either. Official merchandise partners are struggling to keep jerseys on the shelves and in their online stores. Super Bowl jerseys made their way to the Bengals Pro Shop, only to sell out in hours. Personally, I haven’t even been able to find Bengals paper plates for a Super Bowl party.
The big guys will rapidly push out more product and move it, but the mom-and-pop businesses in the heart of the city are not only directly invested in the success of the Bengals as they root them on; they are seeing an increase in profits like never before.
Cincinnati is a textbook Midwestern city. A mix of cultures, economic statuses and home to people in all walks of life are all coming together for one common goal: Make Cincinnati home to a Super Bowl-winning franchise.
While we hope they all get to take a breath and enjoy a monumental win for their community, we also hope the success of their business continues with a Lombardi Trophy coming to the place they all call home.