By Gary Symons
TLL Editor in Chief
If you had any doubts that the sports industry is back, you just had to see what happened in the hours after Lionel Messi kicked in the winning goal for Argentina in the World Cup.
Literally millions of fans packed the streets and plazas of Buenos Aires and other Argentinian cities, and licensed Messi jerseys sold out world wide within hours.
It was a cogent reminder of the unmatched passion fans have for their favorite sports, and of the opportunity for licensees!
With that in mind, this is definitely the year to return to the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show, North America’s premier event for the sports licensing industry.
This year the SLTS will be held Jan. 18-20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s massive South Hall, and will feature close to 400 exhibitors with products licensed by more than two dozen sports leagues and teams.
The Sports Licensing show is the place to be for retailers looking for sports related products, for licensees looking for new deals, and for licensors looking for their next big consumer product hit.
“You’re able to, in one spot, get together with everybody that supports your business as vendor, as a customer or as a licensee, and really set the tone for the future,” said Jeff Davis of Winning Streak Sports.
All of the major league sports attend the SLTS, as do all the major collegiate teams, as well as the licensing agencies who represent them. Some of the major licensors participating include the NFL, NBA Properties, the National Hockey League and NASCAR, not to mention the collegiate sports. This year there are more than 200 college licensing departments registered to attend the Tailgate show.
“It’s important for schools to come out and really get to know the licensees, to see the new product updates, and to continue building those relationships to get your brand out there,” said Samantha Stevens, the director of licensing at Michigan State University.”
Not enough to lure you to Las Vegas?
Well, this year a second event will add value for licensing professionals, as Licensing International has unveiled the program for its first ever Sports Licensing Summit, held in conjunction with the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the top trade association for the sporting goods and fitness industry.
Taking place on Jan. 17, 2023, the Sports Licensing Summit: Sports Licensing in Focus event will be held at the Sahara Resort in Las Vegas prior to the Sports Licensing & Tailgate Show, which of course begins on the 18th.
The summit is a four hour event, with presentations and panels scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., followed by a cocktail and networking event.
Organizers says the event will highlight the trends shaping the future of sports licensing, including Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rights, NFTs, and the shifting retail landscape.
Sports Licensing Summit will also feature insights from industry leaders including Altius, Fanatics, Hasbro, Learfield, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), Octane5, OneTeam Partners, and The Ohio State University.
“This event is bringing together some of the brightest minds in the industry and we are thrilled to share their insights and strategies with the licensing community in partnership with SFIA,” says Maura Regan, President of Licensing International.
“Sports licensing continues to evolve, expanding to touch categories including entertainment, music, and lifestyle. Sports Licensing Summit will gather experts from across the industry, creating new connections and driving the business forward.”
The event also leverages the experience and sports savvy of the Sport & Fitness Industry Association, a primary source for sport and fitness research, and the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry.
“We are excited to partner with Licensing International on this innovative new Summit as the sports licensing industry enters an exciting and rapidly changing space,” said Tom Cove, President & CEO of SFIA. “Licensed sports products have always been a reflection of the passion, creativity, and fun of the sports consumer.
“As a result, the industry carries remarkable energy and growth potential. Sports Licensing Summit will deliver actionable insights around those dynamics and offer access to top executives and decision-makers in the process.”
But the main event, of course, is the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show, which last year introduced a new program that can create instant value for licensors, licensees and vendors alike.
The License To Buy program allows attendees to take advantage of discounts and specials from participating exhibitors using the License to Buy coupons found in the official Show Directory.
If you make cumulative purchases of $500 or more, the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show will reward you with money back.
“It’s the only show that I’ve seen where the trade show actually offers a rebate for working with the vendors. It’s helped pay for my trip here,” said one attendee at the show last year.
For example, someone purchasing $500 of goods would get $50 back from SLTS directly, in addition to whatever discount they received from the vendor. Someone buying $10,000 worth of goods would get $150 back, and so on.
As well, when a buyer places orders with more than 4 participating License to Buy companies, they earn an additional bonus of $40 per company.
“The License to Buy program benefits me personally because it helps validate our travel expenses,” said Sadie Anderson from Iowa State University. “So when we come here, it costs money for our hotel, it costs money for food, but when we can get a kickback from the show it validates us.”
It’s also a great program for exhibitors. At the 2022 show, over 200 buyers placed more than $18 million in orders with the 113 participating License to Buy exhibitors.
The Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show attracts thousands of attendees, and unfortunately the early bird pricing is already past deadline. Typically, retail buyers, school licensing teams, and independent reps can get free entry as long as they can validate their status as a professional in the industry, and register before Oct. 31.
Currently, those entry fees are on for $60 until Jan. 17, when they increase to $110 on the day of the event.
Non-buyers can get entry for $395, while a non-exhibiting manufacturer pass is $695.
You can register for the show at sportstailgateshow.com.