Pepsi trumps Coke in bidding war for Illinois contract including UI

Pepsi Cola products are on display in Sacramento, Calif., in this April 25, 2007 file photo. Pepsi Cola products are on display in Sacramento, Calif., in this April 25, 2007 file photo.

Pepsi Cola products are on display in Sacramento, Calif., in this April 25, 2007 file photo. Pepsi Cola products are on display in Sacramento, Calif., in this April 25, 2007 file photo.

By The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – If you like Coke better Pepsi, you may soon find your preferred soft drink harder to find – at least on state property.

PepsiAmericas Inc. recently beat out its Coca-Cola rival to be the sole beverage supplier to more than 2,300 vending machines on Illinois’ state property, including at dozens of rest stops, four state universities and several prisons.

The 10-year deal makes PepsiAmericas the state’s exclusive soft-drink vendor, and requires the Minneapolis-based company to pay Illinois around half of the price it receives for every drink sold at the designated sites.

Pepsi machines – which could also dispense other PepsiAmericas products, like Mountain Dew and Aquafina bottled water – should replace Coke machines at those locations within months.

The contract agreement – which was first announced by the Illinois Department of Revenue on July 27 and which still must be reviewed by the state’s procurement policy board – could generate up to $64 million for the state, and around $27 million for the University of Illinois.

As the bidding war began earlier this year, officials said the winner would be chosen based on how much money their offers would generate for state coffers.

In the head-to-head contract battle between the soda giants, both were able to employ high-powered lobbyists with connections to Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s office.

One of Pepsi’s lobbyists is William Filan, cousin of budget aide John Filan. And Coke’s representatives in Springfield include John Wyma, a top aide to Blagojevich during his tenure in Congress.

One place Pepsi won’t necessarily displace Coke is at the Statehouse in Springfield.

Because the complex of capitol buildings is run by the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, which has its own vending arrangements, they aren’t part of the new deal. Most other state offices, including the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, are included.