MLB ends 70-year contract with buying and selling card firm Topps

2019 Topps Baseball Cards and 2019-2020 Panini Chronicles Basketball Cards.

Sam Rega

Major League Baseball will abandon Topps as a trading card partner, ending a relationship that has existed since 1952.

Fanatics, the sportswear company, is set to get the trading card deal instead, according to two people familiar with the matter. Fanatics and MLB declined to comment.

The MLB extended their contract with Topps in 2018, and the existing contract ends in 2025. The contract with the MLB Players’ Association also matches the league, so the contract would also end.

In the agreement with Topps, MLB receives a license fee for products that are sold with its intellectual property. Baseball’s exit is a blow to Topps as the powerhouse announced last April that it would go public. The trading cards went into a SPAC merger with Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corp. II, which is listed on the Nasdaq and valued Topps at $ 1.3 billion.

Topps was a publicly traded company before it was privatized in 2007 after a $ 385 million deal. Founded in 1938, the company became known for selling trading cards, including the 1952 Mickey Mantle card, which sold for $ 5.2 million last January. With the departure of the MLB, Topps is left with license agreements with leagues such as the Major League Soccer and the National Hockey League.

In the meantime, MLB will in some way turn to Fanatics to make physical trading cards. Fanatics plans to start a new trading card company and will give MLB and the MLB Players Association holdings in the company.

MLB already owns shares in Fanatics and recently sold its NFT rights to Candy Digital, owned by Fanatic. In addition, Fanatics already owns all of MLB’s e-commerce rights and is looking to expand its business outside of sports merchandising, including sports betting.

Earlier this month, Fanatics secured a $ 325 million raise in funding for its expansion, now valued at $ 18 billion.

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