The NFL’s Western Canadian fan base has Seahawks fever.
Like their border club cousins the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings, the Seattle Seahawks have enjoyed strong support from Canadians for decades.
Yet according to Vancouver retailers, the team’s recent success in the playoffs has turned this solid fan base into a rabid one. Seahawks jerseys are even outselling Vancouver Canucks jerseys.
Vancity Sports owner John Czvelka told the Vancouver Sun that Seahawks jerseys outsell Canucks jerseys by a margin of two to one at his downtown Vancouver store and that has been the case for most of this National Football League season.
“We’re getting new Seahawks jerseys in daily and selling out of them almost every day,” Czvelka told the Vancouver Sun. He also told the Sun that he typically receives 36 to 48 new jerseys at a time.
Jersey City district manager Jim Rayburn told the Sun in the same article that Seahawks merchandise and Canucks gear alternated as the top sellers at the sports retailing chain’s seven B.C. stores during the Christmas season.
Sensing the trend, Jersey City announced a comprehensive partnership with the Seahawks in October. The partnership gave them exclusive rights to the name and logo for the ‘Seahawks in Canada’ and access to special marketing initiatives like in-store autograph signings.
“Had we had more Seahawks gear, we would have sold more,” Rayburn told the Sun. “We basically sold out but we have replenished our supply for this playoff run.”
Rayburn told the Sun that he estimates Seahawks merchandise sales have at least doubled at Jersey City this year, with quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Marshawn Lynch and cornerback Richard Sherman jerseys being the top sellers. http://www.faceoff.com/business/Vancouver+Seattle+Seahawks+wallop+Canucks+team+jersey+sales/9401451/story.html
“I’m very aware of the Canadian influence in the Seahawks fan base,” NFL and CFL legend Warren Moon told the Vancouver Sun. “About 10 per cent of our fans come from Vancouver and Alberta, and they come up to me all the time to say hello (Moon currently works as an analyst on radio broadcasts of Seahawks games). . . . . No question about it, I see Seahawks gear everywhere when I go up there (to Canada) for public appearances.”
The sale of Seahawks gear has in fact doubled across Canada this season, making the team’s merchandise the fourth most popular in the country — behind only the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.
A year ago, Seahawks products were just the 13th most popular in Canada and two years ago, they were number 22 in the country.
A 2013 study of how Canadians connect with the NFL showed that BC Sport Fans have the strongest affiliation with an NFL team that is geographically close. The Atlantic and Quebec also show a strong affiliation with a team – the New England Patriots. Sport Fans in the Prairies and Quebec are the least likely to have a favourite NFL team.
Close to 10 per cent of the fans at Seahawks home games are Canadians who cross the border on Sundays. The Seahawks have a Canadian marketing office, and hold regular viewing parties and fan experience events in Vancouver. The multitude of Seahawks fans North of the border have even have an official brand name – “12 North”.
Even the New York Times recently reported on Canada’s role in the rise of the Seahawks:
A link to how Canadian fans reacted on twitter after the NFL Championship game:
CTV story on BC Seahawk fans celebrating Seahawks NFC Championship win: