Back in June, EA Sports announced plans to open up three brick-and-mortar stores, appealing to sports fans' wallets with games and apparel. This is the first location, the month-old EA Sports store located just at the Concourse C entrance at Charlotte (N.C.) Douglas International Airport.

I got a look at it this morning when I flew to my home state from Portland. It's a fairly straightforward airport gift/lifestyle store. The apparel isn't just EA Sports-branded stuff, it also included items from local universities and the Carolina Panthers. T-shirts with the 1990s EA Sports logo and 16-bit sprite players from Madden and NBA Live caught my eye.

Kiosks are set up to play the recently released Madden NFL 12 and next week's NHL 12, as well as NCAA Football 12. Display cases contained current EA Sports offerings as well as other Electronic Arts titles, like Dead Space 2.

It seems to be the kind of place where a sports-fan traveler would kill time waiting on a flight and, EA hopes, decide to buy a shirt or a game, whether for himself or the kids back home.

The store opened Aug. 8 but had its ceremonial grand opening on Friday. Attendees included Sugar Ray Leonard (who appears in Fight Night Champion); the mayor of Charlotte, Anthony Foxx; and the costumed mascots of the University of North Carolina and Duke University. EA Sports expects to open two more stores at unspecified locations by the end of the year.

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