Cola Wars: Vikings, Univ. Of Minnesota Face Conflicting Contract Issues With Pepsi, Coke
As the Vikings negotiate to use the Univ. of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium during construction of a new Vikings home venue, "one of the sticking points is the university's 10-year agreement making Coca-Cola the exclusive soft drink on campus," according to Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. UM has had Coke as its "exclusive soft drink" since '96. The Vikings have an agreement with Pepsi, and the NFL also "has an agreement with Gatorade -- which is owned by Pepsi -- to have 'Gatorade-logoed coolers, cups and towels' on the sidelines" during all games. UM General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said, "The beverage issue is very important to the NFL and to the Vikings. They say they have Pepsi, and we say we have Coke." The team and the school "are racing to reach a solution by fall." Coca-Cola VP/Public Affairs & Communications Kevin Morris said that the outcome "is clear -- Coke will be sold at Vikings games at TCF Bank Stadium." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said, "We've got some time to sort (it) out." NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said that there are "ways to resolve the problem." He said that the Falcons "have a business deal with Coke and yet Gatorade has been featured on the sidelines at Falcons home games for more than two decades." UM's Coke contract states that Gatorade "can be dispensed to athletes in 'nonpublic spaces' on campus as long as it is in 'nonbranded containers.'" But the contract also states the school "shall not grant advertising, marketing or promotional rights for Gatorade products" on campus. The university's Coke contract is worth "more than" $14M. In addition, the school gets a $4.9M sponsorship fee "so that Coke can have a major marketing presence at athletic events" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/18).