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Volume 24 No. 112
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          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).