BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (Jan. 9, 2012) – Western Kentucky University and Coca-Cola have signed a 10-year partnership for beverage rights.
The transition will begin Thursday as Coke returns to the WKU campus after 15 years, said Gary Meszaros, assistant vice president for Auxiliary Services.
“The University evaluated two strong proposals from Coke and Pepsi to become our beverage pouring rights partner and become the beverage of choice on campus,” he said. “This was a tough decision for our campus, but we feel our new partner, Coca-Cola, will best meet the needs of our WKU community.”
The contract encompasses vending services, campus restaurants and convenience stores as well as athletic and concession programs, he said.
“This contract is projected to provide more than $6 million in financial and product package that will provide our programs the ability to grow and meet the needs of our students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus,” Meszaros said.
Jimmy Briggs, chief operations officer for Coca-Cola distributer Clark Beverage Group in Oakland, Ky., said Clark is looking forward to renewing its partnership with WKU.
“This prestige property that provides a first-class education to so many of our local students will be a big addition to brands, building programs in our surrounding communities,” he said. “Our employees will be working diligently to have the Coca-Cola products available in all vending and retail locations as soon as possible.”
Briggs said brands that will be available at WKU include: Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Dr Pepper, Sprite, Mello Yello, Ski, Minute Maid Juice, Dasani Water, Vitamin Water, Smart Water, PowerAde and Monster Energy Brands.
John Osborne, vice president for Campus Services and Facilities, complimented Briggs and Clark Beverage Group “for their comprehensive and responsive beverage proposal which is sure to have widespread appeal on the WKU campus.”
Marshall Gray, director of Printing, Postal and Vending Services, said he expects a smooth transition to Coke that should be complete by the start of the spring semester on Jan. 23.
“We are excited to partner with Coca-Cola in serving the WKU students and the campus community,” he said. “I look forward to working with Coke to bring an exciting line of products to our vending machines for our campus to enjoy.”
Tim Colley, resident district manager for WKU Restaurant & Catering Group, said student surveys and last year’s MarketMATCH study showed that a majority of students preferred Coca-Cola products.
“WKU Restaurant & Catering Group is very happy to help expedite the transition,” he said.
Ross Bjork, director of intercollegiate athletics, said he was excited to have Clark Beverage and Coca-Cola as premium partners for WKU Athletics and Hilltopper Sports Marketing-IMG College.
“Coca-Cola is one of the top ‘brand names’ in the world and this new relationship will provide our student-athletes and our fans with great drink products at our home athletic events starting on Jan. 17 at our women’s basketball game vs. Tennessee Tech and beyond,” Bjork said. “In addition, the partnership will provide additional financial resources for athletics – so we can continue to grow the foundation of support for our student-athletes and future. We truly appreciate Pepsi and their staff for their hard work and dedication as we turn the page on a new beginning with Coca-Coca.”
Meszaros also expressed appreciation to Pepsi, which has had the WKU contract since 1997.
“They helped us both financially and programmatically and have been a great partner to work with over the past 15 years,” he said. “Our convenience stores on campus will continue to offer several Pepsi products, such as Gatorade and Mountain Dew.”
An event to officially welcome Coca-Cola back to the WKU campus is being planned for a date soon to be determined.