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MLB'S MARCH IS OVER: OPENING DAY PUTS MLB ON FRONT PAGE
Published April 1, 1997
MBNA Corp. signed an exclusive deal to become the official credit-card issuer of MLB, according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but "people familiar" with the pact said the five-year deal "could produce" up to $5M in annual revenue for MLB. The deal includes use of logos for all the teams and other league-related marks. In addition to an annual rights fee "of more than" $1M, MLB "will receive a fixed amount for every affinity card sign-up plus a percentage of card billings." Sources added that Visa "is nearing" a national sponsorship with MLB (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/28). SO MUCH FOR RUSSELL BEING OUT: Russell Athletic's deal as the official supplier of MLB team uniforms has been extended through the '98 season (Russell). Russell's deal was to expire at the end of this season (AD AGE, 3/31). In N.Y., Steve Zipay reported that Nike "has suspended all talks" with MLB teams about local sponsorship deals because uniforms are not included. Nike "plans to focus on its athletes," including Ken Griffey Jr. (NEWSDAY, 3/28). BOSTON: The GLOBE's Dan Shaughnessy, on the three giant fiberglass Coca-Cola bottles added atop Fenway Park's Green Monster: "It's a shocker, like standing outside the Sistine Chapel and seeing a sign announcing, 'Thursday is Bingo Night.' ... it's as if Billy Payne and [ACOG] landed in Boston." Red Sox VP Dick Bresciani: "We didn't want a neon flashing bottle. Nothing obstructive. This is an old-style bottle, one that's well known. The cap doesn't pop off. There's no Coke shooting in the air. We felt like we weren't ruining Fenway Park because for years there have been signs on and around Fenway" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/29). NEW YORK: The Yankees' Derek Jeter is on the cover of NEW YORK under the header "The Natural." NEW YORK's James Kaplan writes that, "For the moment, Jeter's image -- in New York ... couldn't be stronger." But he notes some market insiders claim Jeter is being "undersold." Jeter, through his agent, IMG's Casey Close, recently signed a shoe deal with Fila, two weeks before the Yankees deal with adidas, "under which Jeter almost certainly would have made far more" (NEW YORK, 4/7 issue). NEWSDAY's David Lennon notes MLB lawyers are discovering that the Yankees "did not violate any rules" in their deal with adidas and sources indicated MLB will not challenge the "unprecedented one-team deal that will separate baseball's richest club even further from the pack" (NEWSDAY, 3/31). The Yankees signed a multi- year deal with ANC Sports Enterprises, LLC to use the Space & Time rotational signage system starting with he '97 season. The signage will be behind home plate and behind the first and third base lines (ANC Sports). NOTES: USA TODAY's Hal Bodley called MLB's "ridiculous 'March to Opening Day' promotion ... a bomb" (USA TODAY, 3/28)....Eastman Kodak's three-year marketing deal with the Braves and Turner Field announced last week is estimated by sources to be in the $7-8M range (MEDIAWEEK, 3/31 issue).