Titans hit field for TCF Bank Stadium battle: Coke vs. Pepsi

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 17, 2012 - 10:37 PM

TCF Bank Stadium

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Minnesota Vikings and the University of Minnesota are playing their own version of Coke vs. Pepsi -- with millions of dollars at stake.

As the Vikings negotiate to use the school's TCF Bank Stadium during construction of a new professional stadium, one of the sticking points is the university's 10-year agreement making Coca-Cola the exclusive soft drink on campus. The Vikings have an agreement with Pepsi, and the National Football League also has an agreement with Gatorade -- which is owned by Pepsi -- to have "Gatorade-logoed coolers, cups and towels" on the sidelines of all NFL games.

The university has had Coke as its exclusive soft drink since 1996, and the latest 104-page contract features an "approved cup design" and lists more than 300 Coke vending machine locations on the Twin Cities campus alone.

"The beverage issue is very important to the NFL and to the Vikings," said Mark Rotenberg, the university's general counsel. "They say that they have Pepsi, and we say we have Coke."

With the Vikings needing to use the campus stadium for at least a year while the team's new stadium is built, the team and the school are racing to reach a solution by fall.

Coke spokesman Kevin Morris said the outcome is clear -- Coke will be sold at Vikings games at TCF Bank Stadium. "Our assumption is that our products would be served during those games," said Morris, the vice president for public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola Midwest.

The Vikings said there is time to work out a compromise, though an initial letter of intent with the U will be void if a final agreement -- including a resolution of the Coke vs. Pepsi issue -- is not reached by Aug. 31. The letter of intent left the Gatorade issue unresolved but says that the Vikings cannot "serve or sell, distribute, dispense, advertise or promote" any beverage on campus in violation of the school's existing contracts.

"Pepsi's been a longtime and strong sponsor of Viking football, and we are proud of that relationship," said Lester Bagley, the team's vice president for public affairs and stadium development. "We've got some time to sort [it] out."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy likewise said there are ways to resolve the problem, and said that the Atlanta Falcons -- Coke is headquartered in Atlanta -- have a business deal with Coke and yet Gatorade has been featured on the sidelines at Falcons home games for more than two decades. "Gatorade has a 'game-day' presence in all [NFL] stadiums, regardless of local club-stadium sponsorship, or pouring deals," he said.

The university's Coke contract says that Gatorade can be dispensed to athletes in "nonpublic spaces" on campus as long as it is in "nonbranded containers." But the contract also says that the university "shall not grant advertising, marketing or promotional rights for Gatorade products" on campus.

Details of the U's contract

The university's Coke contract, which is worth more than $14 million to the school, binds the school and the soft drink giant on many levels.

In addition to the basic $14million contract, the school gets a $4.9 million sponsorship fee so that Coke can have a major marketing presence at athletic events, and up to 10 freshman students selected by Coke receive $5,000 scholarships annually. Should Coke also sell the school at least 60,000 cases of "nonvending beverages" a year, the school gets 83 cents per case, or $49,800. The school also receives a vending commission guaranteed to be at least $750,000 a year.

Coke, of course, also benefits. The company gets a sign on the main TCF Bank Stadium scoreboard, tickets and paid travel to football and men's basketball and hockey away games, free rounds of golf at the school's golf course and the use of Williams Arena, Mariucci Arena and TCF Bank Stadium once a year for a company outing.

Other perks for the company include a 16-person suite at TCF Bank Stadium for all football games, 12 season tickets for men's basketball games and a VIP reception for 60 people at football, basketball and hockey games. Coke also gets full-page color ads on the back cover of game programs for most of the school's major sports.

Not out of the ordinary

School and Coke officials said the arrangement is typical of other large contracts at the school. Morris, who said he has helped oversee the contract, said Coke had similar, exclusive agreements with most Big Ten schools except for Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin.

The free golf at the university, Morris joked, is something that "I never got to enjoy."

Rotenberg said that the university has given Coke nothing that other large vendors have not also received and that the school did not compromise its standards in doing so.

"Coke is not unique in that way," he said. "If we can offer them some tee times or something that they find beneficial to their employees [to] give us a break" on costs, then "my office will negotiate that."

"We don't promise their executives' children free admission to the medical school," he said, laughing.

Linda Cohen, who chairs the university's Board of Regents, said she was aware of the U's negotiations with the Vikings over the Coke vs. Pepsi issue, and said she did not think the disagreement was a "deal breaker" in having the Vikings use the stadium. "Certainly, we want to honor" the school's Coke contract but also "make this work for everybody."

But, said Dean Johnson, another member of the Board of Regents: "Pepsi and Coke -- I mean, that's a big deal. We're not trying to be punitive toward either product."

Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673

  • related content

  • The U has an exclusive deal with Coca-Cola, while the Vikings have one with Pepsi.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Kansas City - J. Vargas 7:07 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 1 1st Prd 4:00
Toronto 0
NY Rangers 0 1st Prd 5:08
Montreal 1
New Jersey 0 1st Prd 3:10
Ottawa 0
Dallas 1 2nd Prd
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 2nd Prd
Philadelphia 0
Chicago 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Florida 8:00 PM
Washington 9:00 PM
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
Utah State 34
Temple 14 3rd Qtr 0:14
UCF 33
(15) Arizona 31 3rd Qtr
Washington St 16
Texas-El Paso 14 2nd Qtr 15:00
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 3 1st Qtr 0:51
Colorado State 10
Syracuse 3 2nd Qtr 14:00
(21) Clemson 0
Texas State 0 2nd Qtr 10:47
(3) Ole Miss 0 1st Qtr 3:52
(24) LSU 0
(4) Alabama 6 1st Qtr 12:35
Tennessee 0
So Carolina 7 1st Qtr 12:25
(5) Auburn 0
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Nevada 10:59 PM
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 1st Half 44:55
New England 0
Portland 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 7 14:41
Winnipeg 4
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Sunday in Tampa Bay?

Weekly Question