NHL Snubs Labatt Breweries With Surprise Beer Sponsorship
On Tuesday, the National Hockey League announced a seven year sponsorship deal with Molson Coors in Canada and MillerCoors in the United States. Serving as the largest corporate sponsorship in league history, the deal is worth nearly $400 million.
But, the NHL may have made an enemy in long-time beer sponsor Labatt Breweries in Canada. Hours after announcing the deal, which is more than twice as much as what Labatt will have paid through this season, the incumbent sponsor expressed its surprise citing current renewal negotiations and an agreement to extend their sponsorship until 2014.
"We have an agreement with the league and are pursuing all legal remedies available to us to enforce the agreement," said Charlie Angelakos, a vice president with Labatt, to the Wall Street Journal.
Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of the NHL, responded with, "Labatt has been and continues to be a terrific partner, but we strongly disagree with their assertion that an agreement was in place for the 2011-2012 NHL season."
Labatt's relationship with the NHL will be terminated at the end of June 2011 after serving as the official beer sponsor of the NHL in Canada for more than a decade.
The new agreement with Molson Coors includes money for television advertising and deals with individual teams.
"What this will allow us to do is take the brand to a whole new level," said Dave Perkins, president and CEO of Molson Coors Canada to the Associated Press. "It enables us to really take hockey to our beer drinkers and to fans, and to provide hockey experiences behind the brand."
The new beer sponsorship is seen as just a piece of a much larger puzzle for the NHL, who saw sponsorship revenue grow by 32 percent in the 2009-2010 season.
In the 2010-2011 season alone, the NHL has renewed deals with Bridgestone, Cisco Systems, and McDonald's and signed new deals with Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Blackberry, Discover and Hershey's.