SBD/December 15, 2010/Marketing and Sponsorship

MLB Properties Denies A-B's Claims In Suit, Makes Counterclaims

MLB Claims A-B, NFL Deal Breaks Promise That Baseball Remain Brewer's Top Sports Property
MLB Properties late last week responded to last month's lawsuit from Anheuser-Busch against the league, strongly denying nearly all of the brewer's initial claims and making a set of their own counterclaims. MLB's licensing arm, in its filing with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that contrary to A-B's complaint, there was no binding agreement to renew the long-standing sponsorship deal, rather only a letter of intent to renew from April ‘10 exchanged shortly before A-B announced a new six-year pact with the NFL. That football deal, MLB asserts, violated a pledge it received from A-B President Dave Peacock in which MLB would remain its "top, number one sports property in the U.S.," and in turn, amounts to bad faith negotiation. "Rather than attempt to make good on its commitment to make Major League Baseball its top, number one sports property in the U.S., A-B has instead embarked upon a campaign to attempt to bully MLBP into an agreement." MLBP seeks a dismissal of A-B’s complaint and a declaration that the letter of intent is non-binding. The current deal between MLBP and A-B expires Dec. 31, but the dispute will extend into next year, as a status conference has been scheduled for Jan. 7. The MLBP filing did not acknowledge even some of A-B's more basic assertions in its complaint, such as its standing as a league sponsor for three decades, its investment of "tens of millions of dollars" annually into the sponsorship, and that the baseball deal coincides with the traditional peak beer selling season of summer. To those and numerous other claims, MLBP "denied knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations." MLBP, however, did admit that "beer is sold in ballparks during baseball season" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

A-B RESPONSE
: A-B InBev VP/Marketing Keith Levy "brushed off MLB's accusations." He said in a statement, "We intend to continue our sponsorship having reached an agreement with MLB earlier this year -- an agreement we are asking the court to recognize. Major League Baseball remains a top priority for our Budweiser brand and is important to our plans" (NYTIMES.com, 12/14).
Return to top
Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug