A dispute over naming rights to Routine Field, home of the Milwaukee Milkmen (independent; American Association), escalated when team owner ROC Ventures filed a countersuit alleging that Routine Baseball violated the terms of the deal.
A little background. Last September, Milkmen ownership entity ROC Ventures–backed by managing partner Mike Zimmerman–and Franklin, WI-based apparel company Routine Baseball announced a naming-rights agreement for Routine Field, the home of the Milkmen that opened this summer. Prior to that announcement, the two sides agreed on a non-binding letter of intent (LOI) in July spelling out the terms of the naming-rights deal, which called for Routine to pay $150,000 annually for five years and for related company Complex Solutions LLC to become ROC Ventures’ exclusive merchandise and promotional product provider. In addition, the LOI called for ROC Ventures to receive 15 percent ownership stakes in Routine and Complex, while Routine assumed an 85 percent share of Lifestyle Sports Apparel LLC and received first rights to have a retail location in the development surrounding the ballpark.
A lawsuit filed in August by Routine Baseball argues that the LOI was never signed and that ROC Ventures should not have moved forward with the naming-rights deal. A countersuit filed this week says Routine not only failed to pay for naming rights, but that Routine Baseball failed to pay royalties and commitments due after Routine (as part of the transactions between ROC Ventures and Routine) took over Lifestyle Sports Apparel and Korked, another ROC Ventures enterprise that created apparel for Joe Maddon’s foundation. Also at issue: $150,000 loan made by ROC Ventures to Routine Baseball, and money due to Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group as part of the Korked takeover. From BizTimes:
In its counterclaim, ROC Ventures acknowledges the letter was listed as non-binding, but also points out that it was signed the same day as a $150,000 promissory note that loaned $150,000 from Zimmerman to DeGrave. The note was allegedly a necessary part of the naming rights deal and has not been paid enough, even though it was due by July 11, 2018….
The counterclaim says Zimmerman found out Sept. 9 that Korked had not paid Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation for any “Maddonism product sales” since August 2018.
The CEO of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group also reached out to Zimmerman after not receiving any licensing payments or reports from Korked for more than a year, according to the complaint.
Routine Field opened in June. It is part of the larger ROC Ventures-led Ballpark Commons development, located in the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin.