SBJ/July 1-7, 2013/Colleges

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  • Notre Dame cards likely to have national appeal

    Upper Deck’s first set of Notre Dame football trading cards hits store shelves this week.

    The sets will range in price from $20 to $48 and will sell in big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, as well as in smaller hobby and card shops.

    The Notre Dame set marks the fifth college set that Upper Deck has produced in the last three years since the privately held Carlsbad, Calif., company decided to make the college space a greater focus. It already has produced sets specifically on Alabama football, Texas football, Oklahoma football and North Carolina basketball. A Kansas basketball set is planned for a fall release. An SEC football set, which would be the first of its kind
     
    “The Four Horsemen,” Holtz and Rockne are among the Irish legends to appear on the cards.
    representing a conference, is planned for next year.

    Upper Deck is entering the fourth year of its deal with Collegiate Licensing Co. as its exclusive trading card. CLC represents more than 200 colleges and conferences. Brandon Miller, Upper Deck’s brand manager, said the company’s sales have increased in each year of the deal.

    “What we’re looking for is more of a controlled growth,” Miller said. “We want to make sure we don’t oversaturate the market. Ideally, we’d like to maintain the steady growth we’ve seen with these college products.”

    The Notre Dame set took two years to execute, Miller said. Upper Deck compensates each player or former player featured on a card. In cases where the former player is deceased, Upper Deck works with the estate to negotiate compensation.

    In all, Upper Deck struck agreements with 93 players, from Manti Te’o to the estate of Knute Rockne. Many of the images came directly from Notre Dame’s archive of photos.

    The more expensive sets include at least one autographed card from the likes of Joe Montana, Tim Brown and Rudy Ruettiger, among others. The school’s alumni association worked with Upper Deck to track down the players in the set.

    In addition to all-time greats like Montana, some recent players such as Te’o and Tyler Eifert, both from last year’s BCS runner-up team, are included as well.

    “Because it’s Notre Dame and they have a truly national fan base, the big-box retailers have been more open to taking this product on a more-than-regional basis,” Miller said. “Other school-specific cards that we’ve done they felt were too regional. We’ve been really pleased that retailers are taking more Notre Dame product and spreading out its distribution than some of the previous cards. It’s not going in all of the Wal-Marts and Targets, but a lot of them.”

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