In Houston Super Bowl LI merchandise in high demand, short supply

By Allie Burger
Reporting from Houston

One day after Super Bowl LI, fans wanted to wear their team spirit on their sleeves…. and their shirts, as well their hats and even their pants. But that proved difficult, even impossible for some, at the NFL shop in Houston.

Super Bowl LI

Fans waited for over an hour in line outside a corner of the George R. Brown Convention Center on Monday to buy Super Bowl merchandise and New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons gear at half-price. However, many Patriots fans were disappointed.

“We came down to get shirts and we saw the line of like 400 people and heard there was no more Patriots gear so we took off,” Boston native James Paghai said.

The sale began just after 9 a.m. and consisted of only general Super Bowl and team gear that had been sold throughout the week. Super Bowl champion merchandise was not available.

Paghai and three of his friends flew down from Boston on Friday. The group had gone to the same sale at Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix back in 2015, and said that this year’s post-Super Bowl sale experience was significantly worse.

“We kind of didn’t think there were going to be this many people,” Paghai said. “We were shocked. We were in Arizona and this wasn’t the case … We came down around the same time, 10:30 a.m. … It was crowded, but there wasn’t a line to get in like this.”

Patriots fan Kevin Lopes said that yesterday’s crowd at and around NRG stadium gave him a good idea of what to expect at the sale.

“It was like ten-to-one Seattle fans at the [2015] Super Bowl,” Lopes said. “[Seahawks fans] weren’t going to go down and buy Patriots gear, and it’s kind of the reverse this time.”

Patriots fan Reuben Gonzales of Reynosa, Mexico was among the fans who did wait in line for over an hour to enter the store. This was his sixth consecutive Super Bowl, and said this was by far the most frustrating post-game sale experience he’s had.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a line waiting outside,” Gonzales said. “We did it for the deals, and waited just to see what we would find. If we were able to find more Patriots gear, it may have been worth it. But, I don’t think an hour in line was worth it.”

Coordinators of the event were unavailable for comment in response to fans’ complaints.

Katrina Denson, from Atlanta, was among the few disappointed Falcons fans mixed into the Patriots-dominant line. She was one of the only congregated who knew she would have a good variety of items to choose from, considering most of the Falcons merchandise was still available.

“I’m sure they have a lot of gear they’re trying to get rid of,” Denson said. “I don’t think they’re going to run out, so I’ll be able to find something to be able to say I waited in this line and it was worth it.”

She also added that though she was disappointed with the outcome of the game, she wanted to seize the opportunity to support her team wearing as many Falcons items as possible.

“I’m still proud, I’m still out here amongst all these Patriots fans in my Falcons gear with my head high because I’m still proud of our dirty birds.”

Denson and the hundreds of others in line were confident that despite the dwindling options the wait is a small price to pay for the deals inside.

Photo at top: Fans wait outside George R. Brown Convention Center on Monday to buy half-price Super Bowl LI merchandise. (Allie Burger/MEDILL)