December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

They shoot, they score

When it came to playing the game, few played it better than John Elway, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky. Now, the future hall-of-famers are trying to excel at e-retailing. The three serve as directors and athletic advisors to MVP.com, a pure-play sporting goods store; Elway is chairman. They used their experience to tilt the e-retail playing field by making MVP one of the best content sites.

For each sport there is advice on how to choose and use the gear. And the advice is as on the money as a scrambling Elway’s across-the-field pass. If the site information is still not enough, visitors can email questions to MVP and get a same-day response.

Gomez Advisors Inc. Sporting Goods Analyst John Lovett calls MVP a great site for mainstream sports enthusiasts. The content is excellent for those looking to buy gifts and improving for those who are serious players. In spite of its star directors, MVP is no jock-run business. It has hired executives and forged partnerships with some retail expertise. CEO John Costello is a 25-year retail veteran and real-world retailer Galyan’s Trading Co. provides expertise in merchandising, customer service and fulfillment. MVP provides e-commerce for Sportsline.com, Majorleaguebaseball.com and Pgatour.com. Sportsline recently wrote down the value of its investments in MVP following nonpayment of nearly $4 million in the third quarter for promotioinal services on Sportsline. MVP says it is seeking more funding, but that was planned and is on schedule. MVP says it is not in danger of folding.

MVP says sales were strong this fall, a slow time for sporting goods, and that it is on pace to reach profitability by the fourth quarter of 2001. The site boasts 60,000 products across 40 activity categories that include 600 brand names. Lovett says one of the site’s strengths is that it displays its products in a way that does not overwhelm consumers. “All the other players in the sporting goods industry have got their eye on MVP,” Lovett says.

MVP.com

Chicago, Ill.

Monthly visitors: N/A

Sales: N/A

Went live: January 2000

Design by: In-house

OS: Windows NT4.0

E-C Software: In-house

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