Fanatics strike deal with colleges and student athletes to launch Topps cards


Fanatic display at the All-Star Players House presented by MLBPA located at Corner Alley Bar & Grill on July 07, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Duane Prokop | Getty Images

Topps is launching a line of trading cards this fall featuring college athletes, in a deal that parent company Fanatics says will cut profits for some players and associate them with college logos for the first time. school on the cards.

Fanatics, which sells sportswear and acquired Topps earlier this year, said the program will include more than 150 schools featuring current and former athletes. The company has also entered into agreements with more than 200 individual student-athletes from these schools to use their names and likenesses. And the plan is to keep adding schools and athletes, Fanatics said.

The majority of schools in the Power Five conference are participating, including Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Oregon, and Texas A&M.

“We believe this whole category is one that will not only bring new collectors into the space, but also benefit student athletes to expand the product offerings available in the marketplace,” Vice President Derek Eiler told CNBC. executive of the college division of Fanatics.

Terms of the agreements with the schools were not disclosed, but most athletes from these schools will not receive any money. Fanatics also declined to say how much individual student-athletes with their own bids will be paid, but said compensation will vary depending on their position, public profile and level at which they should be drafted. For players who continue to play professionally, the demand for their football or basketball card will likely increase.

Fanatics said it would be the first time school logos were allowed to be used on trading cards. In other trading card deals with college athletes, school logos had to be erased.

“We are thrilled that Kentucky student-athletes are part of this exclusive new program with Topps and Fanatics that allows fans to collect official trading cards of their favorite British Wildcat athletes for the first time,” said Jason Schlafer, Associate Athletic Executive of the University of Kentucky. director, told CNBC.

The deal also includes digital maps that can be produced quickly. Eiler said these can be used to try and capitalize on key moments or big plays during games.

Physical cards will be sold in packs and individually at Fanatics retailers, the Fanatics website, hobby stores, and select college bookstores.

For Fanatics, the deal helps build relationships with student-athletes before they reach the professional ranks.

“With Fanatics skillfully leveraging the iconic Topps brand they recently purchased, their launch into physical and digital trading cards will simultaneously increase their own revenue while creating another avenue for student-athletes to monetize their name-image- likeness,” said Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at the University of Washington.

Rishe said the deal could boost the autograph market for current and past stars.

“Imagine what a card signed by Ed Pickney and others of the 1985 Villanova Cinderella basketball team could win,” he said.

Fanatics acquired Topps in January in a deal worth an estimated $500 million as it seeks to deepen the sports collectibles market. The company was founded in 2011 by Michael Rubin, co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. In March, Fanatics raised $1.5 billion to give it a Evaluation of $27 billion.

The company ranked #21 on this year CNBC 50 Disruptor listing.



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