The game may soon be over for popular sporting goods chain.
According to a recent Bloomberg report, Englewood, Colorado based Sports Authority is reportedly taking steps towards a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The retailer is reportedly in talks with lenders on a reorganization plan under which it would close as many as 200 of its more than 450 stores, the report said.
The Sports Authority, Inc. was founded in Lakes Mall in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. The first store opened in November 1973 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Like Waldenbooks, OfficeMax and Borders Books & Music, The Sports Authority was for a time (1990-1995) owned by Kmart. Today, the chain is owned by Leonard Green & Partners, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm.
Gart Sports, which traces its roots to 1928 in Denver, merged with The Sports Authority in 2003. At the time of its merger with Gart Sports Company, The Sports Authority was the largest full-line sporting goods retailer in the United States, and had 205 stores in 33 states. The combined company took the Sports Authority name. The combined company was headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, the home of Gart Sports.
(Gart Capital Partners, a private equity firm, started by Gart Sports family members, bought Atlanta based Swoozie's out of bankruptcy in 2010.)
Sports Authority operates eleven locations in Georgia including stores in Buckhead, Kennesaw, Sandy Springs, Buford, Northlake and Cumberland.
Sports Authority anchored shopping centers in Buckhead and Northlake are both named for the retailer: Sports Authority Village Northlake and The Sports Authority Center in Buckhead. The chain dropped "the" from its logo years ago but some locations still feature the outdated branding in some areas of the store.
|The Sports Authority Center on Peachtree Road in Buckhead|
Sports Authority, once a dominant name in sporting goods and apparel, has been hit hard by the likes of Dick's Sporting Goods via bricks & mortar and Amazon via eCommerce.
Dick's entered the metro Atlanta market in 2004 via its purchase of Galyan's Trading Company. Galyan's had opened three giant stores in Kennesaw, Buckhead and Buford at the Mall of Georgia in 1999. Since the Galyan's acquisition, Dick's has continued to expand in metro Atlanta, adding a number of new stores over the recent years, including stores in Alpharetta and East Cobb. Today, Dick's operates ten locations in the greater metro Atlanta area with its eleventh store coming soon to Tucker.
Academy Sports + Outdoors operates 14 stores in Georgia but unlike Sports Authority and Dick's, Academy specializes in smaller markets. Academy operates no stores inside the perimeter, and instead cultivates markets like McDonough, Newnan, Snellville and Warner Robins.
Sports Authority launched "S.A. elite" in 2010, a concept store which I visited on Long Island, New York. Less than a half mile from a full-line store, S.A. Elite was described as a "small store concept designed to meet the needs of the elite sporting goods consumer while providing a unique and compelling shopping experience." The stores were described as being 12,000-15,000 square feet despite the one I visited being just shy of 20,000 square feet. Clearly this was an attempt for the brand to capture a greater share of the lucrative premium products market with a smaller space.
|The original S.A. elite store at Cherry Creek Mall in Denver|
As of last year, all existing S.A. elite stores, of which I'm told there were nine, were converted to "small format" Sports Authority stores. Interestingly, the store on Long Island, still answers the phone "S.A. Elite" but is actually "Sports Authority Westbury Outlet" according to both its website and salespeople.
Aside from competition, many sports marketing observers say the retailer's decision to sign a rich naming rights agreement in Denver may have overextended them financially. In 2011, Sports Authority agreed to pay $60 million over ten years for naming rights to Mile High Stadium in Denver. The stadium, home of the Super Bowl 50 winning Denver Broncos, was previously known as Invesco Field. Today the stadium is known as "Sports Authority Field at Mile High."
Where do you shop for sporting goods? Do you, like me, miss the three story rock climbing wall at
Galyan's Dick's in Buckhead? What local Sports Authority stores do you think the retailer will close?
Please share your thoughts below.