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Fanatics launches events company, IMG on board as minority investor

Featured image credit: Fanatics

Featured image credit: Fanatics

Global sports merchandising company Fanatics has launched Fanatics Events, a new company that includes the IMG agency as a minority partner.

The company will seek to “reinvent” the live event landscape and celebrate all aspects of fandom, including sports, collectibles, memorabilia, fashion, music and entertainment.

Fanatics Events will initially focus on the collectibles space, finding entry points to put a “fresh spin” on card shows and collectible gatherings. Fanatics said these events will be key to its mission of growing the trading card and collectible space by welcoming new collectors, bringing current collectors together, and celebrating the fandoms of sports and entertainment.

Fanatics Events will eventually expand beyond collectibles to “celebrations of the shared cultures” of sports and entertainment with top-tier athletes and celebrity appearances, as well as leading music acts and brands.

Lance Fensterman will serve as chief executive of Fanatics Events and report to Tucker Kain, chief strategy officer of Fanatics. Fensterman joins from ReedPop, a global pop culture live event and multimedia platform whose portfolio includes New York Comic Con and MCM Comic Con.

Fanatics will serve as the majority owner of Fanatics Events, with IMG on board as a minority partner.

Fensterman said: “The launch of our new Fanatics Events business provides an opportunity to celebrate all aspects of fandom – including sports, collectibles, memorabilia, fashion, music, and entertainment – under one physical roof in a way that has never been done before.

“Fanatics is uniquely positioned to innovate the live event landscape, and these new touchpoints will reinforce our commitment to enhancing the overall experience for fans and collectors globally.”

Paul Caine, president of On Location and IMG Events, added: “We are excited to partner with Fanatics to produce best-in-class experiences for sports fans everywhere. Fanatics Events will be super-charged by the full power of Endeavor’s flywheel, global network, and events expertise to deliver once-in-a-lifetime moments that fans will remember forever.”

The new company is set to begin announcing additional staffing hires, launch plans and deals in Q3 and Q4 of 2023, with plans to launch its first fan-facing events in 2024.

Fanatics has been expanding in the sports venue space in recent years and recently agreed an expanded deal with the WWE to assume operations of the wrestling organisation’s global event merchandise business.

Fanatics Commerce, the company’s e-commerce, licensed merchandise and physical retail operations division, is managing the on-site event retail experience for WWE’s annual calendar of 300-plus events.

Fanatics has also recently signed new deals with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, the German Football Association (DFB) and Major League Baseball team the San Francisco Giants.