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Reebok Granted NFL Apparel Licensing Rights

Sports: In 10-year deal, company will be able to sell merchandise, including uniforms and footwear, for league's 32 teams.

December 20, 2000|From Bloomberg News

NEW YORK — Reebok International Ltd. said Tuesday that it acquired apparel licensing rights to all 32 National Football League teams starting in 2002 under a new 10-year agreement.

Under the agreement, the No. 3 athletic footwear maker has the right to manufacture and sell NFL licensed merchandise, including uniforms, sideline apparel, footwear and an NFL-branded apparel line. The agreement also gives Reebok exclusive rights to develop a new line of NFL fitness equipment.

Financial terms of the agreement weren't immediately disclosed, although NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the value of the contract is more than $150 million. Reebok stock gained 25 cents, to $23.09 in New York Stock Exchange trading Tuesday.

Reebok will create a new division dedicated to the NFL apparel and fitness business. The NFL could take a stake in the division in the future and make it a joint venture, said Roger Goodell, the NFL's executive vice president.

"We recognize the NFL isn't only one of the largest sports leagues in the world, but clearly the most preeminent," said Reebok Chief Executive Paul Fireman in a media conference call.

Under current agreements, Nike Inc. and Puma outfit 13 teams each and Adidas-Salomon has the other five. The league will add its 32nd team for the 2002 season, the Houston Texans.

Next season, in a transition year, Adidas and Sara Lee Corp.'s Champion will have five teams apiece while Reebok will have the other 20, McCarthy said.

The Dallas Cowboys will be outfitted by Nike, although Nike won't be allowed to display sideline advertising or use their affiliation with the team in marketing.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the league is changing the way it licenses its products to gain more control over "quality, fashion and fitness."

The league said of the 32 teams, 30 voted in favor of the Reebok agreement. The Miami Dolphins abstained and the Oakland Raiders voted against it.

Fireman said Reebok also will develop fitness wear and equipment, paying special attention to selling products for women.

"What it comes down to is that the NFL is not simply a sports league, it is a major brand known worldwide," Fireman said.

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