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MASTERCARD SET TO STEAL MLB CREDIT CARD CATEGORY FROM VISA?
Published October 14, 1997
MLB "is close to signing MasterCard to a top sponsorship deal," according to BRANDWEEK's Terry Lefton. Sources told Lefton that "nothing is signed but MasterCard appears to have the edge" over Visa, who has been unable to come to terms with MLB after "a torturous two and a half years" of negotiations. In talks with MLB, sources said MasterCard "is offering assurances that MLB would become a top priority" along with other properties, the NHL, NASCAR, MLS, and the World Cup. Visa, with its "lavish stable of properties that includes the Olympics, the NFL and racing's Triple Crown," was "unable to offer similar guarantees." Lefton writes that Visa's "on-again/off-again MLB deal illustrates the leadership vacuum that plagued MLB's central marketing organization from the departure" of former MLBP President Rick White in January of '94. Visa negotiators "were angered by MLB's inability to deliver firm contractual language," and that their, "The World Series Won't Take American Express" TV spot "wasn't delivered." Meanwhile, sources said MLB negotiators were "frustrated by Visa's reopening of terms, even after the deal was approved by the card association's senior management" (BRANDWEEK, 10/13).