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Pepsi takes its turn at the Wisconsin Badgers’ concession stands

August 29, 2018

As the University of Wisconsin football season opener goes into late night on Friday, Lydia Garlie predicts that she’ll be in need of a boost.

“With the game starting at 8,” said Garlie, a UW alumna living in Madison, “Mountain Dew will be critical.”

On cue, enter the citrus-flavored soft drink with its 54 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce serving to Camp Randall Stadium and the rest of UW’s athletic properties.

Friday night’s game will be the first major event of the Badgers athletic department’s five-year deal with Pepsi-Cola of Madison that went into effect in July.

Dr Pepper, 7UP and RC Cola are out from the concession stands after a five-year stint when the Dr Pepper Snapple Group had UW’s athletic pouring rights.

Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Diet Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist and Doc are among the soda choices that will be available for thirsty fans at Badgers home games.

Pepsi has installed nearly 170 pieces of equipment in UW athletic facilities, said Tyler Hartmann, director of marketing for Pepsi-Cola of Madison.

But what he said might make the most difference to fans is that the company ran all new soda lines through Camp Randall and installed water filters where they had never been.

“We’re very confident that Camp Randall product has never tasted like bottled product,” Hartmann said. “It’s usually been pretty tough to get that. And we now feel that we will definitely have the most consistent-tasting product that that stadium has ever had.”

That part of the change excites the athletic department, said Jason King, UW’s senior associate athletic director for capital projects and operations.

“We think they’re going to be a great partner and we look forward to a long relationship with them,” he said.

While spectators will get a new list of drink options, UW will get $140,000 in pouring rights annually from Pepsi through the 2022-23 season.

The contract also includes 231,000 20-ounce bottles of übr brand water per year for athletic department use, not sale. That has a value of $173,250.

The expired contract with Dr Pepper Snapple Group paid UW $200,000 each year plus a 20 percent commission on sales at vending machines placed in athletic facilities, but had no allotment of water.

Pepsi-Cola of Madison won the soft drink bid process in 2017 against submissions by Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

The soda company gets promotional space at Badgerville, UW’s official football tailgate party, and signage in Badgers sports venues.

Pepsi’s parent company, PepsiCo, also owns Gatorade, which in 2017 started a contract as UW’s provider of sports drinks. That deal, which also runs through the 2022-23 season, gives UW $100,000 annually plus a $150,000 credit toward product.

Hartmann said Pepsi-Cola of Madison’s connection to Badgers sports will go beyond the stadiums and arenas and into homes. In Wisconsin, 24-packs of Pepsi will be co-branded with the Badgers’ Motion W logo.

A portion of sales of a newly created flavor of Klarbrunn sparkling water, Bucky’s Cherry Berry, will go toward the Badgers Give Back community outreach program.

“We want to make it big,” Hartmann said of Pepsi-Cola of Madison’s work with UW. “We want to bring people into the stands. We want to make sure that we’re maximizing the relationship.”

Five years ago, UW faced complaints about the introduction of Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s line of products to the concession stands after years when Coke and its family of beverages were on sale.

Badgers officials know that any change is bound to bring out detractors.

“We’re not going to make everyone happy,” King said. “There’s always going to be people who want their Diet Coke and there’s always going to be people who want their Dr Pepper. But, overall, we think the selection that Pepsi can bring to the table is going to be good.”

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