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08.2011

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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archivedOnBeerReport

THE BITTER BATTLE GOES ON . . .

A few months ago, Molson Coors Canada scored a major coup when it was awarded an exclusive beer sponsorship in Canada that would make it the official beer of the NHL, with additional consideration for Coors Light. That deal took the sponsorship away from Labatt’s (made by Budweiser). But the celebration for Molson has been put on ice as Labatt’s cried foul and went to court over the deal. A Canadian judge issued a ruling that the league had reneged on an existing deal with Labatt Breweries. The Ontario Superior Court ruled for Labatt, which claimed it already had a Canadian sponsorship agreement in place with the NHL before Molson Coors signed its seven-year North American sponsorship pact in February. Labatt said in February that it negotiated a “good faith” contract extension through 2O14. Justice Frank Newbould recommended an injunction against an NHL-Molson Coors agreement “so far as the Canadian rights are concerned”. He said Molson Coors knew the league was already partnered with Labatt. Not surprisingly, Molson Coors Canada and the National Hockey League plan to appeal the ruling that would block what has been called the most lucrative sponsorship deal in the league’s history. Meanwhile, the Denver-based brewer said it remained committed to advancing the $375-million deal with the NHL. The deal may be on ice for now but this showdown will probably go the distance.

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