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09.2011

Massachusetts Beverage Business

archivedOnBeerReport

MOLSON COORS TAKES ROUND 3

The battle for National Hockey League beer sponsorship between Molson Coors Brewing Co. and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s Labatt Breweries goes on. In late July an Ontario appeals court overturned a lower court’s ruling in favor of Labatt, which claimed it already had a Canadian sponsorship agreement in place with the NHL before Molson Coors signed its seven-year North American pact in February. Labatt said then that it had already negotiated a “good faith” contract extension through 2O14, but the appeals court found that the lower court misinterpreted that as a binding agreement. Labatt said in a statement that it will continue to fight the court’s decision and announced new sponsorship deals with three Canadian NHL teams. Budweiser beer, which is under Labatt’s umbrella in Canada, will sponsor the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets, effective in October. The agreement between Molson Coors and the NHL was widely reported to be worth almost $4OO million, the largest sponsorship deal in the league’s history. It makes Molson Canadian the official beer of the NHL, with additional consideration for Coors Light. With millions of dollars at stake, this fight is sure to continue and will likely only end in sudden death overtime.

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