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Bud Versus Baseball

MANHATTAN (CN) - Anheuser-Busch claims that Major League Baseball refuses to sign a sponsorship renewal agreement and is threatening to hand over lucrative promotional rights to another beer company, putting a 30-year relationship between Budweiser and baseball in jeopardy.

In a federal lawsuit, the beer giant says that MLB rejected a contract extension that the two had all but approved in April, and is holding out for more money, claiming "a change in marketplace dynamics."

"On the same day that the parties signed the April renewal agreement, MLBP stated that it would prepare the long-form contract. MLBP never did so," according to the complaint. "Instead, several weeks later, Tim Brosnan of MLBP demanded that Anheuser-Busch renegotiate the April Renewal Agreement and pay MLBP an exponentially higher rights fee, claiming that there had been a change in marketplace dynamics."

Later, Brosnan "claimed that the April Renewal Agreement was not binding on MLBP and informed Anheuser-Busch that MLBP planned to offer the sponsorship rights to Anheuser-Busch's competitors," according to the complaint.

Anheuser-Busch says that any third-party talks the league has about promotional rights would be a breach of both the April agreement and the current promotional rights agreement. The company seeks a declaratory judgment stating that the April renewal agreement is valid.

The beer company says in the complaint that it spends "tens of millions of dollars" on advertising and promotions related Major League Baseball every year.

It has been the official sponsor of the league in the malt beverage category for over 30 years, and has separate sponsorship agreements with 26 of 30 major league teams, according to the complaint.

Anheuser-Busch is represented by Corey Worcester of Howrey LLP in New York.

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