"Last month, we restarted talks in our on-field apparel program," said Bob Gamgort, president of MLB Properties. "At this stage, we have spoken with every current licensee and any potential future licensee."
MLB owners rejected Nike and Reebok's combined $450 million bid on those rights in 1996 and were critical of how the deal was packaged by Greg Murphy, who resigned as president-chief operating officer of MLB Enterprises last week.
$91 MIL AGREEMENT
Soon after, Adidas America and the New York Yankees ambushed MLB Properties' efforts with a 10-year, $91 million sponsorship agreement.
The Yankees/Adidas deal was legally contested by MLB. Mr. Gamgort wouldn't comment on how or if the dispute has been resolved.
Russell Athletic currently has an exclusive deal for on-field apparel, but MLB's new strategy will involve multiple licensees. Each will be awarded a mix of small- and large-market teams.
BEESTON LEADING UNITS
With the frustrated reign of Mr. Murphy now over, the three business units of MLB Enterprises report to Paul Beeston, who was hired last summer as the league's president-chief operating officer.
MLB has signed a multiyear sponsorship deal with MasterCard International, a one-year test with Hershey Foods Corp. and renewals with Quaker Oats Co.'s Gatorade and Anheuser-Busch. The three components of these deals are rights fees, commitments to spend media with MLB TV partners and national marketing support.
MLB's pilot program with Hershey is critical as it targets a key demographic: kids. Hershey will execute up to five promotions next season, primarily with its Twizzler brand. MLB itself will spend more on grass-roots programs and,