Fanatics Acquires Topps Sports and Entertainment Divisions

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It’s official. Fanatics has acquired Topps. The deal includes Topps’ sports and entertainment divisions that are responsible for producing trading cards, both digital and physical, as well as other collectibles.

No jobs are being lost in the acquisition with Fanatics retaining all of Topps’ approximately 350 employees around the world.

“With trading cards and collectibles being a significant pillar of our long-term plans to become the leading digital sports platform, we are excited to add a leading trading cards company to build out our business,” said Michael Rubin, Fanatics CEO. “Their iconic brand, commitment to product excellence and passionate employees worldwide will allow us to immediately serve our league and players’ association partners and our fans.” 

With the purchase of Topps, Fanatics can now start producing baseball cards immediately. They had been poised to take over the exclusive MLBPA license in 2023 after current deals expired. Topps had the MLB exclusive deal locked up for a couple of more years after that so Fanatics wouldn’t have been able to produce fully licensed baseball cards until 2026.

All of Topps’ existing deals including Formula 1, UEFA, Bundesliga and Major League Soccer bring even more sports into Fanatics’ trading card portfolio.

Fanatics also has exclusive deals with the NBA, NBAPA and NFLPA once current ones with Panini run out.

Although terms of the sale were not disclosed, reports suggest it was for around $500 million. The sale does not include Topps’ candy or gift card businesses.

Led by Michael Eisner, Madison Dearborn and The Torante Company purchased Topps in 2007. They had been poised to merge with Mudrick Capital in August to take Topps public. However, when word came out that Fanatics would be taking over in baseball just a couple of weeks before a scheduled vote, the merger was called off.

Although Fanatics hasn’t gone into specifics of how they’ll be running Topps and their trading card business, collectors can expect more direct products and opportunities. The company has also said that they are committed to hobby shops as a catalyst for market growth.

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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12 comments

  1. Justin 4 January, 2022 at 12:38

    Good news all things considered I suppose. Now the Topps lineage and flagship releases will continue. I’ll be honest and say that without Topps licensed baseball cards this would of probably been the end of the hobby for me.

  2. Brian Lewis 4 January, 2022 at 17:47

    This is great news – the Topps name is as important to baseball as Rawlings or H&B. And now Fanatics can both keep their license to produce the cards, and build on Topps’ long history.

    Super excited to see how this works out for the industry, but I think it’ll be good.

  3. Eddy Hendricks 5 January, 2022 at 07:23

    Yes the Topps name and logo live on, but given the horribly high prices, low quality and crap customer service with existing Fanatics products, this is horrible news for the average collector. I love building sets and I also work on a budget. People like me have been consistently priced out of the hobby in recent years, with pack prices reaching $10-plus and box prices at $200, $400, sometimes $600 or more. Those prices will be even higher now as Fanatics will have a monopoly on the baseball, football and basketball card market. It will be even more difficult to build the hobby with the next generation of kids because they can’t afford it either. Fanatics states they want to be the leading “digital sports platform” which means more ridiculous NFT items. Also notice in Michael Rubin’s statement he mentions serving the league and players association before mentioning the fans, so it gives you an idea of where he’s headed – millionaires enriching millionaires. The only ones win are the “slab” collectors and people that carry briefcases and backpacks to card shows. This is likely the end of the common collector and mom-and-pop neighborhood hobby shop. Sad times.

    • Ryan Cracknell 5 January, 2022 at 10:00

      @Eddy – They just announced the acquisition. We don’t actually know how this is going to play out. Products have been available at all price points for a long time. I suspect you’re going to continue to see that. If NFTs aren’t your thing, perfectly okay. Like any business, they are looking at growth. That means building off of the existing base. I suspect things will look different in some regards over the next few years but we simply don’t know what that’s going to look like. Being cautious in any change is wise, but I think a certain level of optimism is, too, when so much is unknown.

  4. Justin 5 January, 2022 at 12:00

    @ryan, the only way this hobby will survive, is if kids get into it. Fanatics is retaining all the Topps employees at this time, and from what history has shown us, topps hasn’t really focused on the kids for several years.

    If fanatics can consolidate their product lines but also target kids more heavily, I’ll be happy. Getting more kids interested over the next 10 years of the hobby (and sports) is crucial for long term success if the hobby is going to survive. The leagues have been more interested in short term profits vs. long term growth and that has to change too!

  5. Pete 5 January, 2022 at 13:24

    Fanatics has exclusive deal with MLB and the MLB Players Association- Does that mean every MLB player (40 man roster) can have a certified auto and game used jersey? Also, does Fanatics have to enter into separate agreements with retired players (not current in MLB Players Association?) for cards, jerseys and auto?

  6. matthew evans 6 January, 2022 at 19:59

    you all do not get it!!!! Read the article again, this is about DIGITAL. Yeah they will produce the same for a minute but fade it out. Watch and see. NFTS, Digital Currency and Digital Cards are the future of everything. Which really makes no sense considering the talks about a Carbon Tax that would limit everyones online availability around the world. Just Sayin…..

  7. Justin 7 January, 2022 at 01:23

    @matthew Evans, I do see a world where fanatics directly competes with PSA and COMC, to create a truly digital experience. Open the cards digitally and put it immediately on a digital marketplace where its already slabbed, stored in house, and can exchange hands digitally. COMC and PSA have drawn the ire of consumers for years and such a move by fanatics would really step up competition. Such a platform needs to happen.

  8. Justin 7 January, 2022 at 11:29

    My prediction: Fanatics will directly compete with COMC and PSA as well. They already Slab cards. They have the platform capabilities and it would be a perfect one stop opportunity to buy digitally and immediately send to the secondary market.

  9. goblue98 8 January, 2022 at 11:18

    I hope that the physical aspect of card collecting stays. I personally an not a digital card fan at all. I like the physical aspect of having the card and taking it out to look at. I personally like my cards BGS graded if possible, but have raw ones that I like as well. I’m fairly certain that there are many people that feel the same way that I do.

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