Nearly a century after opening for business, New Era Cap took a giant leap this week by entering a seven-year stadium naming rights agreement with the Buffalo Bills, who now call their home stadium New Era Field. For the hat and accessory maker, it's a chance to further expand their globally-recognized brand while reaffirming its place as a prominent Buffalo company.
The company began in 1920 in Buffalo, making Gatsby-styled hats. By the 1930s, they were producing baseball caps and in that same decade secured their first client in big league baseball, the Cleveland Indians. The American league club commissioned New Era to make their on-field caps.
Decades later, New Era was producing on-field caps for every Major League Baseball team as well as minor league ball clubs. They also produced licensed caps for other major sports leagues, including the National Football League.
The company has really taken off in more recent years with its ventures into pop fashion. Currently the company, according to materials distributed at Thursday's stadium naming rights announcement, hold over 500 licenses for sports, fashion, music and entertainment.
"We're in 85 countries around the world, and have 17 offices around the world. I think while New Era team members around the world know that we're in Buffalo, I don't think a lot of consumers do," said Chris Koch, president and CEO of New Era.
The company, according to Koch, seeks various opportunities to grow its brand and already had a relationship with the Bills for the past 15 years. Bills executives, meanwhile, see the renaming of its stadium to New Era Field as an opportunity to work with a local company that carries global clout.
"What Chris has done over the last 20 years, following his father's legacy, to build New Era to what it is today, the official licensee of the National Football League as well, it couldn't be a better situation for us here in Buffalo," said Buffalo Bills president Russ Brandon, who also expressed excitement over the forthcoming prospects of creative teams from New Era and Pegula Sports and Entertainment working together. PSE was founded by Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula.