Anheuser-Busch has sued Major League Baseball, claiming that they had an agreement to continue their longstanding sponsorship deal that has AB brands as the official beer in every park but four of ’em. The article doesn’t list the four, but I’m guessing Coors Field and Miller Park are two of them. Maybe Toronto is a third. My guess for the fourth: Rogue Park in Portland, Oregon, home to the new Portland expansion team, with Craig Calcaterra as their highly-paid P.A. announcer. Or maybe I dreamed that. (UPDATE: The Blue Jays and the White Sox appear to be the other two, based on the list at the bottom of this press release).
The claim in the lawsuit is that Anheuser-Busch and Major League Baseball reached an agreement to continue the sponsorship, but then MLB reneged, demanding way more money. Anheuser-Bush claims that baseball is “demanding unreasonable fees to sell Bud in all ballparks.” My take: they’ve been demanding unreasonable fees to for people to buy it for decades, and AB never complained about that. $8 for a Bud Light? I’m surprised there hasn’t been a class action yet.
Anyway, all of this gives me an opportunity to pass along a factoid that I share whenever Anheuser-Busch comes up. They were a client of mine years ago, when I was but a baby lawyer. At my first meeting at the local brewery, the AB guys told me that it was too bad I hadn’t been around just a few years before. Why? Because all of the conference rooms used to have taps built-in to the tables, and executives and others in meetings would drink beer. 9 A.M. meeting? Sure, why not? Just part of the culture. And this wasn’t just some old 1940s thing. They were doing it into the 90s, they said.
I realize it’s possible that they were pulling my leg on that, but a couple of other people have told me they heard the same thing. Anyone know for sure? It’s one of those stories that I want so badly to be true.