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Jones Soda chases down Qwest Field deal

Jones Soda chases down Qwest Field deal

SEATTLE (AP) – Cola, diet cola or … grass-stain flavored soda?

That’s a choice Seattle Seahawks fans might be making at home-field concession stands starting in August, thanks to a five-year deal announced Wednesday between Qwest Field and local soft-drink maker Jones Soda Co.

Jones Soda, with annual revenue of $39 million in 2006, unseated The Coca-Cola Co., which sold $24 billion in goods last year, as the sole provider of nonalcoholic beverages at the NFL team’s stadium.

At Qwest Field, fans will be able to buy Jones Soda as a fountain drink, in cans and in plastic bottles the company is developing for the venue.

Jones Soda is known for kooky limited-edition flavors (turkey and gravy — and antacid — from a holiday 2006 collection), bright colors (blue bubble gum) and labels with striking photographs, some submitted by consumers. The company’s soda line started with six flavors in 1996.

Fans will still be able to order a cola at Qwest Field, said Jones Soda’s chief executive officer, Peter van Stolk, but unlike Coke, it will be sweetened with sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup.

The CEO said he’s also playing around with ideas — including ‘grass stain’ — for a signature Seahawks flavor. (Actually, Qwest Field is covered by FieldTurf, an artificial surface.)

As part of the deal, Jones Soda will be an official sponsor of the Seahawks; van Stolk said the company plans to print photos of team members and fans on plastic bottles sold at the stadium and on glass bottles sold at stores. The ability to customize bottles with photos was a key selling point during negotiations with the stadium and the team, van Stolk said.

‘We want to give the fans a really cool experience. Jones Soda is not Coca-Cola, and we will do things differently,’ van Stolk said in an interview. ‘The Seattle Seahawks are our football team. That’s reality. I care about if they go to the playoffs. I care about what the score is.’

The agreement is set to expire Feb. 28, 2012, and Jones Soda has first right to renew or extend the deal, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Qwest Field and the Seahawks did not return calls seeking comment.

Shares of the soda company jumped $1.65, or 8.3 percent, to $21.64 on Wednesday.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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