Alabama & Fanatics Create New Platform Partnership to Reimagine the College Fan Experience
Multiple businesses across Fanatics’ digital sports platform will together execute this new end-to-end collegiate partnership model, including Fanatics Commerce and Fanatics Collectibles, Topps, the legendary trading cards brand, and Candy Digital, a next-gen digital collectibles company.The expanded partnership will allow the University to capitalize on Fanatics merchandising platforms to create, promote, and distribute Alabama merchandise featuring the name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights of current Crimson Tide student-athletes. As a cornerstone of the new agreement, Fanatics will launch The Authentic, the first-ever retail team store to be opened inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Expected to launch during the upcoming 2022 college football season, the new, one-of-a-kind fan shop powered by Fanatics will feature a significant assortment of officially licensed team apparel and student-athlete NIL merchandise, including customized Nike player jerseys, customized name and number t-shirts, headwear, official game-used memorabilia, on-demand digital trading cards from Topps, and more.
The Authentic retail space will also create innovative engagement opportunities for Crimson Tide student-athletes to provide autographed memorabilia, conduct fan meet and greets, and conduct social media marketing to support sales of their NIL merchandise. Fanatics will work with OneTeam Partners in securing group licensing rights for activation for NIL rights on merchandise, in addition to separate marketing and autographs partnerships.
“Fanatics has been one of Alabama Athletics’ top partners for more than a decade and this new deal elevates our relationship to new heights,” said Greg Byrne, Alabama’s Director of Athletics. “By taking advantage of the expanded breadth of Fanatics’ services, we have put our University and student-athletes in a position to maximize sales and brand exposure with Fanatics’ blue-chip family of brands, including Fanatics Commerce, Topps, and Candy Digital. I think our fans will be fired up when they see everything come together inside The Authentic shop at Bryant-Denny, which we plan to open this season.”
The University of Alabama has perennially been Fanatics’ top-selling collegiate partner, and under the new arrangement, Fanatics will obtain new, exclusive rights to become Alabama’s primary apparel and headwear licensee across several retail distribution channels. Fanatics Brands, Fanatics’ in-house apparel division, will design, manufacture, and distribute an expanded selection of high-quality Crimson Tide licensed apparel and headwear for Crimson Tide fans everywhere. Together with The University of Alabama and its licensing agency, CLC, Fanatics will support a robust assortment of additional authorized direct licensees across multiple product categories to provide the widest possible assortment of Crimson Tide apparel and headwear. The University will also retain the right to manage all licensing rights via CLC for the campus and local market in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which is currently serviced by several in-state licensees and retailers.
Additionally, the Alabama Athletics Department, with its partnership with Nike, will provide on-field performance products and specific fan merchandise for the Crimson Tide’s Athletics programs, including authentic and replica jerseys, headwear, and apparel.
“Fanatics’ comprehensive service offering across multiple product categories was key to delivering on the University’s expectations for an elevated fan and commercial experience,” said Derek Eiler, Executive Vice President of Fanatics College. “The University of Alabama has high expectations for fan experience and engagement, so by creating a one-stop-shop to address all the University’s needs, we were able to align on a transformative partnership to make a profound impact on Alabama Athletics.”
Fanatics Collectibles and Topps have secured rights to design, manufacture, and distribute official physical and digital collegiate trading cards. These products will combine the use of both official University of Alabama trademarks and the NIL rights for current and former Crimson Tide student-athletes. Beginning in 2025, the collectibles company will be the University’s exclusive trading cards partner. Candy Digital will also create new levels of fan engagement through the creation of digital collectibles and NFTs of select past Alabama greats and current Crimson Tide student-athletes.
Given the wide range of rights involved, The University of Alabama was assisted in the agreement by both Crimson Tide Sports Marketing and CLC, which both operate within LEARFIELD, a leading media, data, and technology services company in intercollegiate athletics.