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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 4, 2010

NFL: Source: Anheuser-Busch to be NFL beer sponsor

AP Marketing Writer

NEW YORK Anheuser-Busch is in talks to become the official beer sponsor of the National Football League, a person close to the league said Tuesday. The talks came as rival MillerCoors announced it would not renew its sponsorship, saying it couldn't agree on a price.

The person who is familiar with the negotiations but requested anonymity because the deal isn't complete said an official announcement could come later Tuesday. The person declined to specify terms or which of the company's beers would be the official beer.

Messages left for Anheuser-Busch, part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, were not immediately returned.

MillerCoors' Coors Light sponsorship dates to 2002 and runs out after the season that begins this fall. The person familiar with the negotiations said the new contract would be for the 2011-2012 season and an unspecified number of seasons after that.

MillerCoors CEO Leo Kiely said the company made an offer that expired at midnight Monday, but it wasn't accepted. The company told distributors in a memo it couldn't reach an agreement with the NFL over the value of the sponsorship.

"NFL is great property. We're not running away from the NFL. We have tremendous advertising commitments there. We'll continue to," he told investors on a conference call to discuss the company's first-quarter results.

MillerCoors still plans to maintain deals with individual teams but now it has a "significant amount" of money that it can spend elsewhere, he said.

The company won't disclose how much it paid for the sponsorship.

Anheuser-Busch's top-selling Bud Light was a beer sponsor of the NFL from 1990 to 2001, though it also shared the sponsorship during that time with Miller. The beer sponsorship has been exclusive since 2002.

Anheuser-Busch, however, is heavily associated with football and its commercials are often synonymous with the sport's biggest game, the Super Bowl. The company, based in St. Louis, holds exclusive alcohol advertising rights for the Super Bowl.