Pact ends MLB-sponsor fight

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An out-of-court settlement ended a sponsorship lawsuit that pitted Major League Baseball against the New York Yankees and Yankees sponsor Adidas. The suit was sparked when MLB objected to aspects of the Yankees' 10-year, $91 million sponsorship pact with Adidas. The settlement affirms the authority of MLB in marketing matters, makes Adidas an official MLB licensee and returns Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to his position on MLB's executive council. The settlement doesn't give Adidas on-field apparel rights, which are being negotiated separately as part of MLB Properties' efforts to install a new on-field apparel program in 2000. MLB has also extended its contract with Russell Athletic to outfit all MLB teams next year. As part of the 1999 licensing program, licensees will feed a marketing fund that MLB Properties will use to back a singularly themed marketing campaign for its on-field licensed product line. The league also signed Adidas, Nike and Reebok International as marketing partners in the footwear category, beginning in the 1999 season.

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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