Major League Baseball will be without a sponsor in the soft drinks category after multinational giant Coca-Cola opted not to renew its national-level deal with the league.
The brand has been a central sponsor of the league since April 2017, but will not continue its contract in the key sports sponsorship category beyond 2020.
It still retains an active baseball presence, holding local-level contracts with more than half of the 30 individual MLB franchises. Prior to Coca-Cola’s central deal with the league, rival brand PepsiCo had held MLB’s national soft drink rights in a two-decade run between 1997-2016.
Coca-Cola said in an email to AP: “Following a review of all Coca-Cola North America marketing assets at the conclusion of 2019, we made the decision to end our national sponsorship with MLB.
“We will continue to support 16 MLB teams at the local level.”
The 2020 MLB season is currently suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak, and the league and MLB Players Association have been locked in bitter negotiations over terms over a potential season restart.
Earlier this week, the union issued a new proposal for an 89-game season, full prorated salaries, and expanded playoffs, continuing the back-and-forth and often-fractious talks between itself and MLB. This came after MLB’s own offer for a 76-game season that would see players earn about 75 per cent of their prorated salaries.
Still, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said at this week’s MLB Draft that there is a “100 per cent” chance of play resuming this year.