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Chicago Bears drop Coke, pick Dr Pepper

Chicago Bears fans won’t find their usual Coke soft drinks at the concession stands this season. Instead, they’ll get choices of RC Cola, Dr Pepper, 7 UP, A&W root beer and other beverages supplied by the Bears’ new exclusive soft-drink sponsor.

A Bears spokesman called it a “business decision” to drop the team’s decades-long partnership with Coca-Cola — believed to date back to Wrigley Field days — for the Plano, Texas-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group. No financial figures were disclosed.

Spokesman Chris Hibbs says the switch has less to do with money than giving game-goers greater variety — concession stands will sport eight flavors rather than six — and Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s willingness to invest in new kinds of retail and in-stadium marketing, including opening a Dr Pepper Patio next to the new pro shop where fans can hang out and watch game highlights on a giant video screen and eat and drink new concession goodies. One idea is a portable drink station with all of Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s beverages, including Diet Rite cola, Canada Dry, Hawaiian Punch, Country Time lemonade, Squirt citrus drink and Yoo-Hoo Chocolate.

Fans are prohibited from bringing their own soda pop into the stadium.

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