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STIR-IT UPS: ADIDAS CLOSE ON MLB DEAL, BACKS OFF NBA TALKS
Published April 14, 1998
MLB "is expected to announce" a new licensing agreement with adidas in the next several days, according to Jeff Manning of the Portland OREGONIAN. adidas Dir of Sports Marketing Robert Erb said "some issues remain unresolved" between adidas and MLB, with the fundamental question, "How much autonomy do the local owners have to market their own teams?" Erb confirmed that as part of the pending deal, adidas and the Yankees will drop their lawsuit against MLB. Manning also reported that while Russell Corp. and Wilson Sporting Goods have "both abandoned" their NFL licensing agreements in recent months, adidas has gained on-field status and will outfit the Bucs. Erb also "confirmed" that talks are also taking place regarding a possible apparel deal with the Redskins. Manning added that adidas does not appear "to be headed for an on-court deal with the NBA, at least anytime soon." Erb confirmed reports that in recent talks with the league, NBA officials "raised the possibility" of adidas "taking some or all of financially strapped Starter's nine NBA teams." But adidas decided against pursuing the deal "in part because many of Starter's teams have losing records or play in small markets." Starter and NBA officials "denied there is any change pending in their relationship" (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/10).