Topps paid the Major League Baseball Players Association $20.4 million in licensing fees in 2020. That’s according to the union’s annual report with the U.S. Labor Department. The figure represents a $1,666,108 increase from 2019.
The MLBPA receives more money from Topps than any other licensee.
The company’s cost of maintaining its MLBPA rights has increased fairly dramatically over the last 15 years. In last year’s report covering 2019, the MLBPA report indicated it received over $18.7 million from Topps. The year before that, they paid $13 million. As recently as 2015, they spent less than $10 million and ten years ago, when MLB and its union were splitting its licenses among multiple manufacturers, Topps paid just under $5.8 million. In 2005, their cost as an MLBPA licensee was just over $4 million.
Those figures don’t include the cost of Topps’ longstanding mulit-year contract with Major League Baseball which gives it the exclusive right to use MLB and team logos and nicknames on its trading cards. In 2018, Topps and MLB extended that exclusive deal through 2025. Topps also extended its pact with the MLBPA that same year.
Topps’ deal with the players union is not exclusive. According to the Labor Department report, Panini America paid the union over $3.1 million in 2019 as the company continues to print cards for its baseball products. Panini paid the MLBPA around $2.8 million in 2019.