Fanatics strikes deal with colleges, student-athletes to launch Topps trading cards

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  • Topps’ parent company, Fanatics, will launch a range of trading cards featuring college athletes.
  • The company did not disclose how much some athletes would be paid, but says their compensation will vary based on several factors.
  • The Florida company says the college market is an “untapped category” that can bring in new collectors.

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

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Fanatics, which sold sports apparel and acquired TOPS earlier this year, said the program will include more than 150 schools, including both current and former athletes. The company has made deals with more than 200 individual student-athletes in those schools to use their names and likenesses. And the plan is to add schools and athletes, the fanatics said.

Most Power Five conference schools are participating, including Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Oregon, and Texas A&M.

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“We think this entire category is one that will not only bring new collectors into the space, but will also benefit student athletes looking to expand the product offerings available in the marketplace,” Derek Eiler, executive vice president of the Fanatics College division, told CNBC. Told.

Terms of deals with schools not disclosed, But most of the athletes in those schools will not get the money. The hardliners also declined to say how much individual student-athletes would be paid with their own deals, but said compensation would vary based on their status, their public profile, and what they expected to be drawn. Will happen. For players playing professionally, the demand for their football or basketball cards is likely to increase.

The fanatics said this would be the first time the school logo would be licensed for use on trading cards. In other trading card deals with college athletes, the school’s logo had to be airbrushed.

“We are excited that Kentucky student athletes are part of this special new program with Topps and Fanatics, which allows fans for the first time to collect official trading cards of their favorite current UK Wildcat athletes,” said Jason Schlafer, University of Kentucky executive associate athletic director, told CNBC.

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

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

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

“Fanatics has cleverly leveraged the iconic Topps brand they recently purchased, their launch in physical and digital trading cards that will simultaneously boost their own revenues, while working to monetize their name-image-likeness for student athletes. “said Patrick Riche, director of the Sports Business Program at the University of Washington.

Riche said the deal could energize the autograph market for current and past stars.

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

Fanatics acquired Topps in January in an estimated $500 million deal as it sought to dive deeper into 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 valuation of $27 billion.

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