Molson and NHL Sign Sponsorship Deal, Labatt Considering Legal Action

TORONTO, ON – The National Hockey League announced today that it has signed a seven-year sponsorship deal with Molson Coors in Canada and MillerCoors in the US, with the value of the deal being estimated at close to US$375 million.

The Canadian Business Journal reports that the deal, which is set to take effect starting with the 2011-12 season, “will see Molson Canadian branded as the official beer of the league.” Reports elsewhere have indicated that other Molson Coors and Miller brands such as Coors Light and Miller Lite may also part of various promotions and tie-ins.

Meanwhile, Labatt Breweries has responded with a press release indicating that this deal comes while it was engaged in negotiations with the NHL to extend its own decade-plus deal with the NHL in Canada, and that the discussions had “proceeded positively and in good faith to the point where the parties had agreed upon the terms of renewal of a sponsorship agreement until 2014.”

Labatt Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Charlie Angelakos states further that “[Labatt] have an agreement with the league and are pursuing all legal remedies available to us to enforce this agreement,” suggesting that a legal challenge to today’s deal may be forthcoming.

It’s also interesting to note that while the deal with Molson Coors/MillerCoors names Molson Canadian as the main brand to be promoted in both Canada and the US, the Labatt press release regarding their Canadian deal mentions American brands Budweiser and Bud Light, while flagship Canadian brand Labatt Blue is ignored.

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