EXCLUSIVE: Bronx businesses near Yankee Stadium cut out of Nike-MLB mega-deal

Stan The Man's Baseball Land closed on River Avenue. (File)

“Unfortunately, these retailers are not part of Nike Licensed business development strategy at this time,” a Nike rep said.

The New York Yankees are going to bat for mom and pop shops on River Avenue that would be benched by a new merchandising deal between the MLB and Nike going into effect this January, amNewYork has learned.

According to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., the newly-inked retail strategy will bar eight licensed apparel stores near Yankee Stadium from selling any pinstripe merchandise when the crack down on non “premium distribution points” takes the field in 2020.

The deal, Diaz Jr. observed, places a number of small businesses which sell Yankee merchandise near the Stadium in serious jeopardy, including Ballpark Sports, D & J Variety, Home Plate, Pinstripe Collectibles, Sammy’s, S & A Sports, Stadium Souvenirs and Stan’s Sports World. Each of these shops rely on Bomber merchandise to keep their mural-covered roll down gates up during game days.

“Unfortunately, these retailers are not part of Nike Licensed business development strategy at this time,” Nike Territory Licensed Category Sales Director Judy Stobbe told the 161st Street BID Director Cary Goodman on Oct. 8.

Stobbe met with the local merchants on River Avenue over the summer when businesses were notified of the new deal. Goodman told amNewYork that Nike had wanted to see see whether or not they could fit these stores into this new sales model — but a collaborative effort between small and big business had apparently struck out.

The Yankees, in an effort of stepping to the plate for the mom and pop shops,  reached out to the BID and asked for a list of these endangered stores before approaching the league in efforts to keep the eight roster spots on Oct 25. 

“The magnitude of the problem is extreme,” Yankees COO Lonn Trost wrote to the MLB, also noting that these businesses rely on Yankees merchandise to put up their own winning numbers. 

Trost also confirmed that the MLB is currently working with Nike to amend the potential issue, stating that he’s “confident that (his) respective concerns will be resolved.”

Diaz Jr., along with City Council member Vanessa Gibson and other Bronx political figures, all advocated to have the licensed merchandisers grandfathered in to the new marketing scheme, which Goodman says is to divert sales to online and major retail outlets.

Those two also wrote separate letters addressed to Nike, advocating that stripping these stores of Yankees gear would be detrimental to the South Bronx’s economy.

“Taxpayers provided this stadium with nearly $1.2 billion in public subsidies,” Diaz wrote in his letter which was also addressed to Yankees President Randy Levine and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Gibson also noted that the businesses spend an upwards of $1 million a year in licensed apparel, too.

“Given their longevity, community commitment, and economic vitality, we strongly believe these stores to be in fact, premium distribution locations,” Gibson wrote.

Alex Mitchell