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The NBA Hires a Tech Company to Run New Flagship Store

Fanatics already powers the online shop for the NBA, so running the retail side is intended to create "an integrated shopping experience."

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

A lot of retail chains talk about collaborating with tech companies to modernize their retail stores. The National Basketball Association is taking the next step and actually hiring a tech company to run their new Manhattan retail outpost altogether.

The league announced today that it is tapping Fanatics, an online sports apparel retailer, to operate its new 25,000-square-foot flagship store slated to open in midtown Manhattan later this year. Adidas currently operates a smaller NBA Store in Manhattan that will close in late summer. Terms of the league’s multi-year deal with Fanatics were not disclosed.

Fanatics already powers the online shop for the NBA, as well as other major sports leagues, and will use that relationship to make it easy for in-store shoppers to buy stuff online when the new NBA Store is out of stock for the apparel they are looking for.

“The overriding reason to do this was to create an integrated shopping experience,” Chris Brennan, the NBA’s retail development head, said in an interview.

The store will feature employees outfitted with handheld devices who will allow customers to check out without waiting in line or order products from if they can’t find them on the shelves. The store will also include digital displays highlighting product information and a store map. There will be a bunch of other stuff you’d expect from the NBA: A ticker with sports scores, interactive games and huge televisions showing highlights and live events.

The announcement comes on the heels of a deal Fanatics signed with Nascar earlier this year to run track-side superstores during the Nascar Sprint Cup Series. Fanatics also operates brick-and-mortar team stores for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and Phoenix Coyotes as well as the University of Texas and Louisiana State University.

Its core business, however, is still online. Fanatics sells licensed team and player apparel at its main website,, as well as on a network of other sporting sites. The company also runs the online stores for all the major American sports leagues as well as more than 150 professional and college teams.

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