After months of negotiations with the NFL, it's been decided - Coke is it, again.
The Coca-Cola Co. will be the national soft-drink sponsor for the National Football League under a four-year deal that is worth at least $4 million a year, less than the current contract.The terms of the deal were not announced, but one industry source, speaking to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the deal was worth "around $4 million" as reported Friday in The Wall Street Journal.
An NFL source, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the deal was closer to $6 million a year.
The nation's No. 1 soft-drink company had been paying around $15 million a year for the rights, then the NFL opened talks in January demanding a reported $36 million annually.
The NFL source said the league asked for less than $36 million, but declined to give a figure.
The deal between Atlanta-based Coke and the No. 1 television sport starts immediately and runs through the 2001 NFL season. It allows the beverage giant to use all league trademarks including the NFL shield, the Super Bowl logo and the Pro Bowl logo in all of its advertising and promotional activities.
The deal is especially lucrative now that the NFL signed an $18 billion television-rights deal with CBS, FOX, ABC and ESPN.
Coke also is granted collective use of the 31 team trademarks. Unlike last year, each club can now negotiate its own local soft-drink sponsor.
VIKINGS' FUTURE: The Minnesota Vikings owners, back where they started after Tom Clancy withdrew his $200 million bid, made no decisions about the team's future during a teleconference Friday.
"Rather than discuss issues or make decisions, we attempted to isolate what the critical issues might be at some future point," co-owner James Jundt said. "No decisions were made, no votes were taken. It was just attempting to create an agenda."
He would not comment on when the 10 owners might meet again.
Several people are interested in buying the team, including president Roger Headrick, and one of the issues to be settled is how quickly the owners move in accepting another bid.
After the teleconference, Headrick said through a spokeswoman that the owners had agreed not to discuss the sale for now. They will be discussing the issue over the next week or weeks, he said.
Another issue to be resolved is whether Headrick should remain as president if he bids again for the team. Some owners have called it a conflict of interest.
Among others who might bid for the team are Texas businessman Red McCombs, Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider.
McCombs bid $175 million and Headrick $178 million before Clancy's $200 million bid was approved in February.