Spartan Sports Sale draws crowds looking for memorabilia, game-worn equipment
Spartan fans flocked to Jenison Field House Saturday morning to pick up memorabilia and discounted apparel at the alliteratively-christened Spartan Sports Sale.
The doors opened at 10 a.m., ushering in thousands of fans throughout the day, many of whom had been lined up to enter hours before. And what a line it was—stretching from the northwest door of Jenison past the on-site Eat at State and Dairy Store food trucks and down to The Spartan statue.
Jack Vannieuwenhze and his son, Zack, had driven over an hour from their home in Adrian, Michigan to shop for deals. They were told by an MSU Surplus Store employee that they held the 300th spot in line. They estimated that another 400 were in line behind them.
The one-time sale comes as the MSU Athletics Department prepares to move from its offices in Jenison to the newly constructed 1855 Place across from the Breslin Center, James Ives, MSU Surplus Store education and outreach coordinator, said.
“When you even move from a house, you tend to clean house,” Ives said. “And a lot of the offices and space in 1855 is glass walls, so a lot of it, they don’t have places to hang things or put things up.”
The Surplus Store was tasked with calling coaches and collecting unwanted merchandise for the sale, Ives said. What they ended up with was a collection of posters, apparel, shoes, jerseys and equipment. But the crown jewel of it all, and the items that were promoted most heavily on social media prior to the event, were the special-edition game-worn MSU football helmets, 16 in all.
Eleven of these were the bronze alternate design unveiled in 2015 against Oregon. The other five were the “Hydrochrome” design, first seen in MSU’s matchup with the University of Michigan in 2012.
The Hydrochrome helmets started the day priced at $2,000, but the remaining three were marked down to $800 at 4 p.m., according to the event’s Facebook page. The bronze helmets started at a slightly-reduced $1,500, by 2 p.m., the price was slashed to $900.
Lansing resident Michael Burton and his high school-age son, Noah, came seeking a Hydrochrome helmet of their own. Burton is an MSU alumnus, class of 1992. He was drawn in by the event’s promotion on Facebook, which featured pictures of sale items.
“I think they gave us a little bit, but not a lot,” Michael Burton said. “Just enough to kind of, I think, tease you.”
He was also looking for other individual items but tried to keep to items less than $100.
“I don’t want to spend too much on something,” he said with a laugh. “I do have a wife to go home to justify purchases to.”
Most visitors were looking for cheaper buys than the jerseys—which started at $100—and the specialty helmets.
Jack and Zack Vannieuwenhze said they would have been interested in the helmets if there was any chance the price tag was much lower.
“That would be nice, if we could afford them,” Jack Vannieuwenhze said.
The sale’s Facebook event had close to 4,000 “interested” parties prior to the event, Ives, who was pleased with the turnout, said.
The line was still filtering in through the door 12 minutes after its opening. 30 minutes into the event, many of the previously fully-stocked tables had only a few items remaining on them.
On the makeshift sale-floor, a towering 6-foot-6 figure could be seen, blazing trails through the crowd. The frame belonged to Bill Cawood, a former MSU men's basketball guard from 1979 to 1984. He had already picked out a few items for his friend, former MSU football player Craig Fedore, and was looking for a few more.
All proceeds from the sale will go back to the MSU Athletics Department. Items not sold on Saturday will be listed on the Surplus Store website.