TicketManager | Fanatics’ Next Step: Live Events

Fanatics has been around for nearly two decades. But in the last seven or so years, since being acquired by Michael G. Rubin’s GSI Commerce Inc., they have grown into an absolute powerhouse.

Fanatics has become the undisputed industry leader in all of sports ecommerce and merchandising, thanks in no small part to their longstanding partnerships with nearly every significant sports league in the U.S., countless collegiate and professional teams, and several foreign leagues and teams.

But the company didn’t stop there. In January of 2022, Fanatics acquired trading card and collectable giant Topps for around $500 million. This acquisition has helped Fanatics cement themselves as one of the industry leaders in the sports card/memorabilia space, with Fanatics holding distinctions as the official trading card partner of the MLB, NBA, NBA Players Association, and the NFL Players Association.

The brand has also taken steps into the sports betting market by acquiring online gaming operator PointsBet in June 2023 for $225 million and migrating users over to the new Fanatics Sportsbook.

Now, Fanatics is ready for their next venture: live events. In 2023, Fanatics announced that they would be entering the space by launching a new company called Fanatics Events, with plans to host their first major events in 2024.

Fanatics and their owner, Michael Rubin, are no strangers to making splashes in the event space. Rubin’s yearly Fourth of July “White Party” in the Hamptons broke the internet in 2023, with the public shocked to such a star-studded guest list. Rubin’s own recap video received 94.2 million views on just his twitter account alone.

While this was a private party hosted by Rubin himself and not the Fanatics brand, it still shows that the leadership team at Fanatics is well aware of the power of virality and how they can leverage that to promote a yearly event.

Less than a week ago, the company announced their first fan-facing event, Fanatics Fest NYC. In the company’s press release, they say the event will, “bring together fans across all sports to celebrate their passions under one roof.” The multi-day event promises attendees a plethora of experiences like interactive features, product drops, exclusive merchandise and more. Multiple celebrities, like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, and Kevin Durant, are scheduled to make appearances.

Massive fandom conferences are nothing new, with events like Comic-Con, VidCon (an event focused on online content creation), and more becoming yearly staples for fans of each industry. But there is not yet an equivalent event for fans of sports and sports collectables, and that’s where Fanatics wants to step in.

During the launch of Fanatics Events, CEO Lance Fensterman said, “Fanatics is uniquely positioned to innovate the live event landscape.” And he is absolutely right, especially when it comes to this event in particular.

There is no better brand to host a sports fandom fest. Fanatics can leverage their countless team/league/athlete partnerships, their trading card and sports merchandising industry dominance, and their earned brand equity to create an event that offers everything a sports fan could want, all under one roof.

While much of the new company’s success will hinge on the reception of this first major event, their plans go far beyond it and there has already been demonstrated success. Fanatics Events hosted their first large scale activation, WWE World at WrestleMania, on April 4-8 in Philadelphia. This activation became the highest-grossing and most-attended fan event in the history of the WWE.

If Fanatics Events can find success with their Fanatics Fest NYC and be able to parlay that into hosting Fanatics Fests across the country, coupled with the proven ability to host successful activations on behalf of established properties, the sky will be the limit for the brand. We may be witnessing the rise of the next significant player within the live events industry.