Three grading companies in particular have a chokehold on the industry, and we’ve reviewed them all before to talk about the difference in value and pricing. But now, a fourth company could be stepping into the arena alongside PSA, BGS and SGC…
Coming from Derek Jeter and his co-founder Brian Lee, The Arena Club is hoping to change the landscape of grading with some new offerings and services while keeping prices affordable for all.
Here’s our detailed review.
The Arena Club was founded by Derek Jeter, the Hall of Fame shortstop, and Brian Lee. While Lee doesn’t have as much name power amongst sports fanatics, his resume is quite impressive. He was the CEO of The Honest Co and also started LegalZoom, and he’s now the Managing Partner of BAM Ventures, a VC firm based in Los Angeles.
According to the Arena Club’s Leadership Team page, Derek Jeter is listed as the Founding Partner while Brian Lee is the Founder and CEO.
Arena Club has a surprisingly simple website, especially when compared to that of the other grading companies. Perhaps this is because the company is still in Beta mode, but we’ll see how the site evolves over time.
Arena’s Club’s grading combines the human eye with AI, computer-based grading to be as objective as possible, and perhaps the most interesting offering of the platform is that you can “vault” your graded cards with Arena club.
The vaulted cards are stored in “The Showroom,” which is unique to each collector, and you can sell cards on The Marketplace. You can also store cards graded by other grading companies, too.
Here’s the basic process, per Arena Club.
Arena Club’s grading process combines some of the most desirable parts of the other major companies. The combination of human’s weighing in on eye appeal mixed with artificial intelligence leads to a good mix of something that feels like BGS meets PSA.
One of the most exciting things about Arena Club is its current pricing.
If you want to Grade and Vault your card, there’s a cost of $25/card, regardless of the value of the card.
You can vault graded cards (PSA, BGS, SGC and CSG slabs) for FREE, at least for a limited time.
You can also get your cards graded and returned for just $35/card.
In a hobby that’s heavily based on the appearance of the collectible, thankfully Arena Club’s slabs look… really good.
They have a modern look and feel that some collectors might not gravitate towards, but here’s a hot take: they actually look better than PSA’s slabs (I say the same about BGS, though).
The composite score is on the top left of the card, along with the player name and card detail, and each card also has an “arena code” that functions as a unique form of ID for authenticity.
The subscores go on the back of the slab, right beside a QR code that directs to the card detail and Arena Club grading report.
Like BGS, Arena Club is color-coding the labels. There’s a gold-bronze PERFECT 10, which is for a card that achieves 4 perfect subscores (like the BGS Black Label).
Gem Mint 10 card grades are silver with a black highlight.
The rest of cards are the inverse – black with silver highlight.
You can click here to learn what makes a card receive a certain grades.
Arena Club has a showroom and marketplace unlike the major grading companies.
The Showrooms are unique collections curated by collectors. From the Showrooms homepage, you can view different collections such as that of Derek Jeter or Packman, the YouTube card collector. The sellers can post their cards to show off or to sell/field offers.
Every collector gets a unique showroom link they can share with their friends.
The Marketplace is more focused on selling. It’s a sortable market of cards – both graded by Arena Club and other parties, with a fixed price and the option to make offers. The cards are scanned by Arena Club, so all the images look consistently awesome.
While Arena Club is still in its infancy, most of the hobby chatter is pushing back against the company. The logic? The market is already saturated with other grading options and there’s no need for another grader/vault.
That said, the uniqueness of what Arena Club is doing and its forward-thinking approach positions them to at least have a shot of breaking into the industry. They have the support staff to be around for a while, and if more collectors eventually come around to the idea, this is your chance to get in on the ground floor at very affordable grading prices.
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