In an announcement excpected today, Topps will be named the exclusive trading card manufacturer of Major League Baseball starting next year as part of a multiyear deal, restructuring the sports card landscape once again. Not since 1980 has Topps had exclusive rights to produce baseball cards with Major League Baseball logos and trademarks. Neither Topps, MLB or the MLBPA returned calls before press time.
According to The New York Times, by dropping Upper Deck from the licensing agreement, MLB hopes Topps can help jumpstart collecting with younger fans and that one cardmaker will end the confusion of competitors selling multiple card series in hobby shops and stores.
“This is redirecting the entire category toward kids,” said Topps’ owner Michael Eisner. “Topps has been making cards for 60 years, the last 30 in a nonexclusive world that has caused confusion to the kid who walks into a Wal-Mart or a hobby store. It’s also been difficult to promote cards as unique and original.”
Upper Deck, which stands to lose the most out of this deal, just renewed its license with the MLBPA for 2010. But while license gives Upper Deck the right to use player likenesses, it will no longer have the rights to team logos and trademarks starting next year.
“There is a greater chance of organizing the marketplace with a singular partner,” said Tim Brosnan, MLB’s executive vice president for business, told the Times. “It’s a business that’s critically important to our mission, to make players icons to kids.”