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Bryant-Denny Stadium team shop to leverage NIL, ‘reimagine’ fan experience

The University of Alabama on Monday announced that it had entered into a long-term partnership with Fanatics, an online sports retailer, to expand the school’s merchandising platform.

Part of the extended partnership between the two entities will see the first-ever fan shop inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, called The Authentic, which will feature a section for player NIL merchandise.

Alongside student-athlete NIL merchandise, The Authentic will feature officially licensed team apparel, including customized Nike player jerseys, customized name and number T-shirts, headwear, official game-used memorabilia, Topps digital trading cards, among other items.

According to the university, the shop will “also create innovative engagement opportunities for Crimson Tide student-athletes to provide autographed memorabilia, conduct fan meet and greets, and conduct social media marketing to support sales of their NIL merchandise.”

The shop will also offer non-fungible tokens (NFTs), through Candy Digital, which will feature collectibles of select past and current Tide players.

In a release, UA athletics director Greg Byrne said that The Authentic would allow players to “maximize sales and brand exposure” while creating a unique fan experience.

“Fanatics has been one of Alabama Athletics’ top partners for more than a decade and this new deal elevates our relationship to new heights,” said Byrne. “By taking advantage of the expanded breadth of Fanatics’ services, we have put our University and student-athletes in a position to maximize sales and brand exposure with Fanatics’ blue-chip family of brands, including Fanatics Commerce, Topps, and Candy Digital. I think our fans will be fired up when they see everything come together inside The Authentic shop at Bryant-Denny, which we plan to open this season.”

In its partnership with Nike, the UA Athletics Department will offer on-field performance products. Included in the offering will be authentic and replica jerseys, headwear, and apparel.

According to Derek Eiler, executive vice president of Fanatics College, the online retailer’s product offering will serve to provide UA with an “elevated fan and commercial experience.”

“Fanatics’ comprehensive service offering across multiple product categories was key to delivering on the University’s expectations for an elevated fan and commercial experience,” said Eiler. “The University of Alabama has high expectations for fan experience and engagement, so by creating a one-stop-shop to address all the University’s needs, we were able to align on a transformative partnership to make a profound impact on Alabama Athletics.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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