Super Bowl 2013: Trading cards meet the digital age

Big business in the "Big Easy"


Super Bowl 47 brought fans from across the country and around the world to the city of New Orleans to celebrate the game of football.

The buzz and the excitement of the week will peak when the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers meet on the field in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday night. 

The week leading up to that however, was about families gathering to stroll through the 1.1 million square foot Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Yes, it is that big.

Big enough to hold the spectacle that is the NFL Experience.

Exciting enough to make middle aged men run like little kids.

Still in one small corner of it all, a collection of the stars of the game was a major attraction.

Things like signed helmets or jerseys that were grass-stained and game-worn, portraits of the game’s emerging stars, and good old trading cards remind us of the hobbies of our youth.

Kids were seen combing through piles of rookie cards. Adults were flipping through signed pictures of quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, or Joe Montana looking for the right one to complete their “man cave.”

In the maze of memorabilia, the next generation of trading cards reminds the crowd it’s the digital age.

A conversation with Tracey Hackler, the Hobby Marketing Manager for Panini America, revealed the company’s new line of trading cards.

These new-age collectibles feature 30 minutes of exclusive video embedded into the card, including that which shows the athlete actually signing the card.

They’re called HRX, or highlight reel experience cards.

These aren’t the bubble gum packed cards that chewed up allowances of the children of the 80s and before.

Another line of cards features inch-by-inch squares of game-tested attire that’s woven into the pieces.

“Game jerseys, game helmets, pants, shoes, gloves, you name it. Anything that can be cut, we’ve probably cut it up and embedded it into a trading card” Hackler said.

These high-end collecting cards are meant for sports fans that range from 20 to 60 years old and they can carry a price tag as high as $2,000.

It’s trading card 2.0. 

Joseph Kronsverg , formerly of Pikesville, Maryland, is in New Orleans for the big game, but he was carefully surveying shelves for purple Ravens merchandise. He had already purchased a football from the event.

“The one rule about this weekend was don’t worry about the calories and don’t worry about the money.”

In his youth, Kronsverg said he collected baseball and basketball cards since the Ravens “didn’t exist.”

He recalled, “The holy grail was the 1989 Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie card, Upper Deck. We thought it was going to pay for our college, but now it’s worth $20.”

In this small crowded corner of this sprawling complex, everyone was focused on finding their needle in a haystack.


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