Minneapolis, MN and Jacksonville, FL (April 1, 2021) – Fanatics, a global leader for licensed sports merchandise, and Gopher Athletics today announced a exclusive, long-term partnership that will see Fanatics gain a comprehensive set of end-to-end retail and fan apparel rights. Under the progressive partnership, Fanatics will become one of Minnesota’s primary apparel providers, offering the largest assortment of products for Golden Gopher fans everywhere. The deal follows a detailed analysis of the Department’s licensing program and a proposal process completed in conjunction with the University’s exclusive licensing agent, CLC.
In July 2020, Fanatics launched a new e-commerce and mobile platform for Minnesota fans, shop.gophersports.com, which is powered by the company’s rapid, cloud-based technology and mobile platform. Despite a pandemic year, e-commerce sales surged more than 150% year-to-date in the first several months of the partnership. Fanatics has also assumed operations of the Department’s in-venue athletics retail locations, including TCF Bank Stadium (Football), which will feature a new Nike concept shop and improved retail fixtures and store branding, as well as 3M Arena at Mariucci (Hockey), and Williams Arena (Basketball).
The partnership is highlighted by new rights that Fanatics Brands, the company’s in-house apparel division, has secured to design, manufacture and distribute a significantly expanded selection of Golden Gopher products to fans, students and alumni. Gopher Athletics will gain access to Fanatics’ vertical commerce business model and agile supply chain, which will deliver the fastest speed to market of real-time, high quality merchandise to fans regardless of shopping online, on their phones, at the stadium or arena or at key local retailers through new wholesale partnerships.
“Gopher Athletics is excited to partner with Fanatics to advance our licensing program and retail merchandising strategy. We are thrilled to align with an innovative industry leader to enhance the Minnesota brand by delivering unique product assortments that serve Gopher students, alumni, donors, and fans throughout the Midwest and across the world,” said Mike Wierzbicki, Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
“The University of Minnesota has established itself as an elite athletics program across all sports, and we are thrilled to welcome them to our roster of preeminent college partners,” said Derek Eiler, Executive VP, Fanatics College. “Through Fanatics’ industry-leading omnichannel retail and vertical manufacturing capabilities, we’ll create a significantly expanded assortment of quality products across all retail channels for Golden Gopher fans to access in real-time regardless of when, where or how they wish to shop.”
Minnesota will maintain its partnership with Nike as its provider of team performance products and select apparel for the school’s athletic programs. In addition to the University of Minnesota, Fanatics holds similar primary fan apparel deals with renowned college partners including the University of Notre Dame, University of Oklahoma, University of Oregon, University of Florida, and University of Miami.