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WILL MLBPA'S PACIFIC TRADING CARD DEAL RAISE THE IRE OF MLB?
Published March 31, 1998
The MLBPA "threw a high, hard one" at MLB, as it granted Pacific Trading Cards an MLBPA license, putting MLB in "an awkward position" which "could escalate tensions between the licensing sides" of the league and the MLBPA, according to Terry Lefton of BRANDWEEK. The deal comes "at a time when they have at least paid lip service toward working together for more synergistic marketing deals." MLB now "must either capitulate to the [MLBPA], granting a license ... or refuse and risk a resumption of hostilities." One senior card industry exec said, "They were going to work together and now the [MLBPA] is jamming this down their throats." Pinnacle Brands Chair Jerry Meyer, noting the number of card licensees: "I'm at a loss as to why anyone would allow another company in considering the health of the category." Lefton reports that industry estimates put the deal at "close to" $4M, and "[m]any in the industry interpreted the [MLBPA]'s move as a sign that it is strapped for cash," a notion "rejected" by MLBPA Dir of Marketing Judy Heeter. Lefton writes of "two larger issues" in this case: the risk of "oversaturating an already oversaturated category, perhaps killing it and driving one or more of the licensees ... out of business," and "whether the two sides will ever be able to work together" (BRANDWEEK, 3/30 issue).