Four years ago, Panini America announced a series of deals that essentially gave it a monopoly on the licensing of college-themed trading cards. The lone holdout among major schools was Notre Dame, which had signed a contract with Upper Deck just months before.
Now you can put the Irish in Panini’s stable, too.
The deal was announced in advance of Monday night’s College Football National Championship in San Jose, CA. Fermata Partners, the University’s trademark licensing representative negotiated the deal for Notre Dame. Fermata was purchased by sports product powerhouse Fanatics in 2017.
The new deal gives Panini the rights to produce trading card products for Notre Dame football, basketball and baseball as well as former athletes from other sports. Panini’s first Notre Dame cards will be part of the company’s Contenders Draft Picks and Prizm Draft pick products, set for release in April.
“We’ve been producing creative and compelling college trading cards honoring more than 200 schools from across the country for several years and we’ve had great success with that part of our business,” said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop. “But the ability to finally be able to welcome Notre Dame into the Panini America fold is something we’re extremely proud of; there is such a rich history with Notre Dame and we look forward to producing unique trading cards for the Fighting Irish faithful, some of the most passionate fans in the world.”
1987 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown appeared at the media event on behalf of his alma mater.
“I’ve worked with Panini America for a number of years producing cards of me as an NFL player and Pro Football Hall of Famer,” said Brown, a member of both the college and pro football halls of fame. “They’re creative and high-quality and cutting-edge and I’m thrilled that both Panini and Notre Dame have come to this agreement so that they can recognize and highlight all the great athletes that have played for Notre Dame.”
Upper Deck’s last Notre Dame release was a 2017 ePack promotion, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the school’s 1988 national championship.