ESPN Sues ConAgra Over Sponsorships

ConAgra Brands Inc. backed out of sponsorship agreements for major golf events and a college-football bowl game, costing ESPN millions of dollars in revenue, a subsidiary of the network claimed in a lawsuit, according to AP.

The suit -- filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Omaha, Neb., where ConAgra is based, by ESPN subsidiary ESPN Regional Television Inc. -- said ConAgra agreed to pay $18 million over three years to be the title sponsor for golf’s made-for-TV Skins Game, Champions Skins Game and LPGA Skins Game, but the company pulled out of the agreement for the second and third years and did not pay $1 million of a $5.5 million fee for the first year, AP reported.

The suit also alleged that ConAgra balked on the second and third years of its title-sponsor agreement for the Hawaii Bowl, paying $360,000 to sponsor the inaugural event in 2002 but reneging on an $865,000 commitment for the second and third years, according to AP.

ESPN Regional said it is seeking $1 million from ConAgra to cover the balance of the 2002-03 Skins Games sponsorship, and it is asking the court to determine additional compensation for lost title-sponsor revenue from the second and third years of the golf and Hawaii Bowl agreements, AP reported.

ConAgra spokesman Chris Kircher told AP, “We fulfilled our obligations some time ago, and there have been a number of other companies sponsoring [the golf events and bowl game] since then.”