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Jones Soda (Not Pepsi, or Coke) Hits Nothin' But Nets!

Jones Soda
CNBC.com
Jones Soda

When sports teams put their pouring rights contracts up for bid, it's pretty much the same battle--Coke vs. Pepsi. But that's not what happened with the bidding for the carbonated beverage and water rights to the New Jersey Nets new arena, the Barclays Center, which will open in the 2009-10 season.

The winner, which will be announced later today, isn't Coke or Pepsi. It's Jones Soda --the small public company, which is known for its limited edition flavors and allowing its fans to put their pictures on its bottles.

It's a great deal for the Nets, who say that Jones turned out to be the highest bidder. Add to that the fact that it will give their fans something different to drink when they attend the arena in a couple of years. The deal will include Nets themed packaging at retail, customized flavors and something called the Jones Soda Shoppe inside the Barclays Center. Jones' only other pouring rights agreement is with the Seahawks in Seattle, where the company is based.

Jones is in need of some good positive buzz like this. Shares open today 35 cents above its 52-week low. In April, Jones traded as high as $32.60. The company said last week that the SEC ended an informal investigation into trading practices by the company's officers and directors. "Mad Money's" Jim Cramer is still bearish on the stock and this morning he told me is price target for this stock is in between $5 and $6.

From a sports marketing perspective, this is a slam dunk. Sure, Jones had to pony up in what is obviously a seven-figure deal over many years to win a deal like this, but it's one of the greatest consumer sampling experiences a company can hope for. That's why Coke and Pepsi have been bidding so feverishly for rights like this over the years.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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