Baseball Trading Cards Focus on Future Growth
The Major League Baseball Players Association announced Thursday that it has agreed to terms
with The Topps Company and The Upper Deck Company on new licensing arrangements that will go
into effect starting January 2006.
Under the new agreements, baseball cards will be designed, marketed and promoted to attract kids
and new consumers while still providing excitement and value to the current collector base.
Promotional programs by licensors and manufacturers will have special appeal for baseball fans of
all ages, and the presence of fewer products in the marketplace will reduce consumer confusion and
clutter on retail shelves. In making the announcement, Evan Kaplan, MLBPA Director of Trading Cards
and Collectibles, said, "Our licensees recognized the need to make improvements in every aspect
of the trading card business. They are fully committed to building a wide spectrum of products that
will meet the expectations of all fans."
With only two baseball trading card manufacturers, the new licensing landscape will focus on strong
brand presence, longer shelf life and fewer, stronger products in the marketplace to simplify the
retail experience for consumers. Emphasis on marketing, promotion and product development to attract
new purchasers, especially kids, will bring renewed excitement to the category.
Fans also will be pleased to learn that as of Opening Day 2006, a new "Rookie Card" logo
will appear on the cards of players who make their Major League debut. No longer will a player's
rookie card ("RC") be produced before he reaches the Majors. "Improving the rookie
card situation is just one of the many changes that fans will see as a result of these new license
agreements," said Kaplan. "We are going to kick off the 2006 season with the launch of
Topps Baseball and Upper Deck Baseball at the start of Spring Training with a promotional and marketing
campaign that will go throughout the year."
"We couldn't be more enthusiastic about the prospect of a cleaner, more consumer-friendly retail
environment," said Scott Silverstein, President of The Topps Company. "We believe this
development will enable us to better serve our core customers and reach out to a broader base of
new collectors with special emphasis on bringing back kids to the market."
"We are extremely pleased and proud to be given the opportunity to create a more comprehensive
and robust marketplace to ensure the long-term preservation of our beloved hobby for future generations
of baseball fans and enthusiasts," said Richard McWilliam, Chairman and Founder of the Upper Deck
MLBPA representatives said that more information would be forthcoming but collectors should expect to
see calendars for 2006 releases, retail promotions and more developments in the upcoming months. Judy
Heeter, MLBPA Director of Business Affairs and Licensing, added that, "Although we are confident
that the trading card category now will be most favorably positioned for future growth, the decision
to move forward with only two licensees was not an easy one for us to make. We have enjoyed our personal
and professional relationships with all the wonderful people at Donruss, we have the utmost respect for
them and the venerable Donruss and Leaf brands, and we wish them all well."
The Major League Baseball Players Association (www.MLBPLAYERS.com) is the collective bargaining
representative for all professional baseball players of the thirty Major League Baseball teams and serves
as the exclusive group licensing agent for commercial and licensing activities involving active Major
League baseball players. On behalf of its members, it operates the Players Choice licensing program and
Players Choice Awards, which benefit the needy through the Major League Baseball Players Trust, a charitable
foundation established and run entirely by Major League baseball players.
Source: MLB Players Association
Date: July 21, 2005
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