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Tampa Bay Bucs bring on Fanatics to sell their team merchandise

TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a new in-stadium and on-line retailer for team gear: Fanatics, a sports merchandising company with operations on three continents and e-commerce relationships with more than 20 NFL teams.

"They're an industry leader in licensed sports merchandising, and we're going to draw off of their expertise," Bucs chief operating officer Brian Ford said.

As of today, Fanatics is the Bucs' exclusive operator of the team's online retail operation as well as its 10,000-square-foot Buccaneers Team Store on the lower west side of Raymond James Stadium, plus 10 more smaller outlets and a growing number of portable retailers in and around the stadium.

Fanatics and new Bucs food-and-beverage concessionaire Legends are taking over operations at RayJay previously handled by Aramark Sports and Entertainment Services, which learned late last year that the Bucs were ending their relationship with the company as of Thursday.

Based on customer satisfaction surveys done by the league with season ticket holders and fans at every NFL stadium, the Bucs have been ranked No. 1 five of the last seven years. Ford said the changes are meant to build on that.

"We can't always control what happens on the field," he said, "but we can control the game day experience. We're always looking for new, innovative ways to do that … and we feel that Legends and Fanatics are both going to be partners who are going to be able to do just that."

As part of the partnership, Fanatics is launching an enhanced mobile-friendly e-commerce platform at Shop.Buccaneers.com at 10 a.m. Starting then, Buccaneers season pass members will receive an additional 10 percent off on top of their usual discount for items bought through Shop.Buccaneers.com through Sunday.

"This new partnership will completely change the way Buccaneer fans purchase their team merchandise," Ford said. Fans looking for Bucs-branded merchandise should be able to find it either in the stadium store or at the online shop, he said. "In retail, it's all about availability and making sure that you have product that people want."

Fanatics has corporate offices in Jacksonville and San Mateo, Calif., but also runs an apparel manufacturing division in Tampa. That will allow it to offer jerseys, T-shirts, caps and other gear made on the fly to celebrate big plays, big players and big team moments. Shirts, Ford said, could be out the next day, or maybe even that day.

'DOUBLE DOWN ON TAMPA': Sports merchandise giant Fanatics expands new Tampa design hub

"In today's society, it's here and now: Here's the excitement, let's build on it," Ford said.

"We're on a mission to change this industry and to evolve it and to be more agile and quicker to market with products," Fanatics chief commercial officer Cole Gahagan said. Having a production facility in Tampa is "going to allow us to turn on that really quickly ... and to come up with new and exciting products to put in the store quickly."

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Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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