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Volume 25 No. 48
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Fanatics Ending NASCAR Trackside Deal Six Years Early

Fanatics is terminating its NASCAR trackside deal after this year, according to sources, marking an early end to what was originally a 10-year deal that was set to run through ‘24. Fanatics started managing the at-venue merchandise sales efforts for almost the entire sport starting in ’15 as part of a deal that was supposed to be lucrative for Fanatics and revolutionary for the NASCAR industry, which transitioned from using haulers to a tent model for the first time in its history. However, amid sagging attendance that has negatively impacted the original financial projections for the deal, Fanatics apparently tried to restructure the deal recently. When it was unable to do so, the company decided to nix the entire deal, which includes more than a dozen additional contracts with individual tracks. Fanatics declined to comment, but NASCAR President Steve Phelps confirmed the news in a statement Friday to THE DAILY. He wrote, “In collaboration with teams and tracks, we are in the process of finalizing a plan for a new trackside merchandise model for 2019 that will serve and engage fans at racetracks across the country. Although Fanatics has decided to discontinue its trackside relationship, we look forward to continuing our long-term ecommerce partnership as they continue to enhance the ever-growing online and mobile platforms for many more years.” Sources say tracks and other industry stakeholders were just informed of the move within the last week.

MAINTAINING E-COMMERCE SITE: Fanatics is expected to continue to manage NASCAR's e-commerce site, which it has run since '03. Fanatics in May ’17 decided to ditch its tent model and revert to the sport’s long-held trailer method. The company ran the trailers at all NASCAR tracks, and it also handled inside-the-gate merchandise sales at ISC tracks. SMI, which has a merchandise subsidiary called SMI Properties, retained inside-the-gate merchandise sales during the duration of the Fanatics trackside deal. While it was no secret that Fanatics had been down markedly from its original projections and also was seeing more erosion this year after the loss of perennial best-seller Dale Earnhardt Jr. to retirement, the move to completely scrap its trackside deals – rather than try to restructure -- had not been heavily mentioned in recent months as a likely outcome, and the news is likely to surprise many in the industry.