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Updated: January 8, 2024

Tote touchdown: Portland-based Sea Bags scores NFL licensing deal

Two guys tailgating at a football game Courtesy / Sea Bags "Sailgating," anyone? Sea Bags is rolling out a new line of totes and other bags with the logos of NFL teams (including the Green Bay Packers, shown here) under a multiyear licensing agreement with football's pro league.

Just in time for the NFL playoffs and the run-up to Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 11, Sea Bags has landed a multiyear licensing agreement with football’s pro league to put team logos on a new line of the signature bags, made from recycled sailcloth.

Today's merchandise kickoff by the Portland-based brand features four products showcasing 11 team logos. All but one of the teams — the New England Patriots — are advancing to the playoffs, which start this Saturday. The agreement covers the rights to all 32 NFL teams, plus the Super Bowl.

Prices range from $90 for an NFL Slim Crossbody bag to $250 for the NFL Tailgate Tote. A $100 NFL Beverage Bucket and $200 NFL Medium Tote round out the new line of licensed merch.

File Photo / Tim Greenway
Sea Bags CEO Don Oakes

The licensing covers the next 27 months, “long enough to capture this year’s playoffs and the next two full seasons,” Sea Bags CEO Don Oakes told Mainebiz. 

Asked about the contract's monetary value, he said, “All I call tell you is the NFL is the richest sports franchise, and that you have to pay to play. So while I can’t disclose exact numbers from a confidentiality perspective as a result of our contract with them, I can tell you that this is the most expensive arrangement we have entered into.”

Oakes was recognized as a Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year in 2022.

Sea Bags, incorporated in 2006 but with roots going back to 1999, today employs close to 300 people. Its retail footprint includes company-owned stores in 16 states, including a flagship location on Commercial Street in Portland and its headquarters, sail redemption center, design office and factory owned store nearby at 25 Custom House Wharf on the city’s waterfront.

Besides the New England Patriots, today's product launch showcases the logos of the Buffalo Bills, ​Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers,​​ Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, ​San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns.

The rollout starts today on the Sea Bags e-commerce site and at select Sea Bags retail locations.

'Seeing how this all plays out'

Oakes said the agreement covers both direct sales to customers and to resellers, including the teams themselves.

‘We expect the vast majority of sales to occur on our website where customers can select from four products currently available for all eleven teams,” he said. “We will also be offering products for immediate purchase for select teams in some of our stores.” That includes Patriots-themed bags at Sea Bags stores in New England, and an expectation of wholesalers carrying home-team products in their stores.

“We look forward to seeing how this all plays out,” he said.

In the short term, Oakes said the company does not anticipate a need to add stitchers or other employees to handle orders for the new products.

"We don’t really know what to expect in terms of orders, but our manufacturing team can handle whatever comes," he said. "January is typically one of our slowest months of the year, so we feel like we have the capacity to tackle any orders that come." 

NFL reached out

The launch comes a few months after Sea Bags was contacted by the NFL, which Oakes attributes to growing awareness of the brand.

Photo / Courtesy of Sea Bags
Sea Bags merchandise featuring logos of the Kansas City Chiefs, left, and Buffalo Bills.

“Our sustainable, made-in-the-USA product stands out and differentiates from other brands," he said. “As a result, the NFL became aware of our partnership with Life Is Good and contacted us a few months ago, in late fall.

"After some consideration, we decided to make a run for it, but only if we could make it in time for this year’s playoffs. We completed their approval and contracting process in record time, and, because we manufacture right here in Maine, were able to launch the initial batch of 11 teams in time for this year’s playoffs.”

While the short time frame has left little time for teams to put in pre-orders, Oakes said Sea Bags is in discussions with several teams “and would expect interest to accelerate once we kick things off on Monday.”

Asked about additional pro sports licensing agreements down the road, Oakes said there are no plans at this point for a new business line.

“We want to see how this goes first,” he said. “Plus, we are starting off with the best-known and most valuable licensing franchise, the NFL.

"We do have some experience in this area however, as we have licenses with a number of colleges and universities in areas where our stores are located. The difference is that each one of these schools requires a separate license agreement, while with the NFL we have the rights to all 32 teams, plus the Super Bowl."

That's a lot of yardage for a brand from a little state without a professional football team of its own.

Photo / Courtesy of Sea Bags
The New England Patriots may not be going to the NFL playoffs this year, but they are featured in a new line of officially licensed merch by Sea Bags.

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