Anheuser-Busch, MLB Renew Sponsorship Deal

With Deadline Looming and Court Case Filed, Parties Come to Agreement

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NEW YORK ( -- Major League Baseball and Anheuser-Busch have kissed and made up.

After both sides filed lawsuits against one another, MLB and A-B today announced a multi-year renewal of arguably one of the greatest sports/marketer partnerships ever. The announcement comes less than 36 hours before the current deal was set to expire Dec. 31.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but it is expected MLB will receive slightly more than the estimated $10 million a year it got from A-B on the previous agreement. A-B will continue to have exclusive rights to the MLB logo and game footage as the Official Beer Sponsor of Major League Baseball.

"Major League Baseball has always been a top priority for our Budweiser brand and is important to our plans," Mark Wright, VP-media, sports and entertainment marketing at Anheuser-Busch said in a statement. "We value our long-term relationship with the league and are happy to have resolved this issue. We look forward to continuing the successful relationship we've had with MLB for more than 30 years."

"Anheuser-Busch has been a major supporter of Major League Baseball for decades, so we are all pleased that we were able to work through our differences to reach an agreement which will continue our relationship," said Tim Brosnan, Major League Baseball exec VP-business. "We have made significant progress with Anheuser-Busch and look forward to working together on planning for the 2011 season."

The brewer will continue to promote its Budweiser brand through MLB-themed promotions, in-store point-of-purchase displays, TV and print ads and on its products. Budweiser is a sponsor of 26 of the 30 MLB franchises.

Only recently, the two sides were at odds as negotiations on a new deal turned sour. A-B filed a lawsuit against MLB in November, accusing Major League Baseball Properties of demanding higher fees and backing out of a deal struck in the spring. The brewer claimed MLB wanted a new deal due to a "change in marketplace dynamics" -- A-B had just signed a similar deal with the National Football League, albeit for an estimated $50 million a year. (The NFL has significantly higher viewership than baseball.)

The league countersued on Dec. 17, contending the "letter of intent" between MLB Properties and Anheuser-Busch was non-binding.

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