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Volume 24 No. 178

Marketing and Sponsorship

Cavaliers G Derrick Rose last week returned to the team after a brief absence, but said that the reported $80M remaining on his Adidas contract, which he was in "jeopardy of losing should he have decided to walk away from the NBA for good, was not his motivating factor in his return," according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. Rose said, "I don't care about -- not to be rude -- I don't care about no f---ing money. It's not about that. I've saved up enough money" (ESPN.com, 12/8). YAHOO SPORTS' Ben Rohrbach noted Rose is "still due" roughly $11.4M annually from Adidas for a "massive endorsement deal he signed" in '12. But Rose would "not be eligible for the remainder of that contract should he file his retirement papers with the league." Rose has made more than $100M in his 10-year playing career, and he has "already cashed in" on another $100M of the Adidas contract he signed five years ago, so it is "not like he needs the money." Still, if he were "contemplating retirement -- as he reportedly has upon leaving his teams twice in the past two years -- it would be hard for anyone to walk away from an eight-figure salary" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/8).

The NFL concussion crisis has "hit the league's helmet makers where it hurts: in the wallet," according to Josh Kosman of the N.Y. POST. Sources said that Riddell has been "struggling without success to sell itself in recent months despite its market dominance." The same goes for No. 2 Schutt Sports, which "recently cancelled an auction of the company that makes helmets for NFL stars" like Panthers QB Cam Newton and Falcons WR Julio Jones. One "big obstacle" is former NFLer Leonard Marshall, who is "leading a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 4,500 former NFL players against Riddell." Marshall said that he "got a call in July from possible suitors" interested in purchasing Riddell, who "offered him cash and an equity stake in the company in exchange for dropping his suit." Marshall: "I am not going to drop my lawsuit because I am a part of a much bigger picture." Sources said that the legal battle is a "major cloud hanging over the helmet makers' future." The federal case against Riddell in Philadelphia is "ongoing, and plaintiffs are angling to move it to California in search of a bigger [judgment]." Kosman reports discovery in the suit is "expected to begin next year." Private equity firm Fenway Partners bought Riddell in '04, and "now owns Riddell through BRG, which in recent years has sold off most of its other assets including Easton-Bell helmets." Meanwhile, sources said that Platinum Equity-owned Schutt has been "for sale through the Park Lane investment bank," seeking about $40M. But Schutt "cancelled the auction a few months ago after Riddell countersued it in a dispute over patent infringement." Riddell is the "biggest football equipment maker" with about $200M in sales, and Schutt is second with $55M (N.Y. POST, 12/11).

Talks between MillerCoors and the Brewers regarding an extension of the Miller Park naming-rights deal are "likely to commence within the next year," but the brand "will not be the naming-rights sponsor" at the Bucks' new arena, according to Rich Kirchen of the MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL. MillerCoors "will establish a presence both inside and outside the new venue" for the Bucks. MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley on Friday said that his company is "proud to continue as a sponsor with the Bucks" as a foundational sponsor of the new arena. Hattersley noted that the venue includes "'three specialty areas' featuring MillerCoors products," with one being "dedicated to Coors Light, another to MillerCoors-owned Leinenkugel's an a third to 'Miller Brewing.'" Kirchen also noted MillerCoors has a 20-year naming-rights deal for Miller Park, which opened in '01. Sources said that the brand pays an estimated $2.1M annually for the deal running through '20. Hattersley said of initiating talks with the Brewers, "We'll get to that when we get to it" (MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/8 issue).