SBD/Issue 197/Facilities & Venues

Levy Takes Over Concessions At Conseco, Palace Of Auburn Hills

Levy Restaurants has replaced Aramark and Centerplate as the general concessions operator at Conseco Fieldhouse and the Palace of Auburn Hills, respectively, confirming information published in Monday’s SportsBusiness Journal. In Indianapolis, Levy assumes all food service in the arena after having managed the premium portion since Conseco opened in '99. The contract runs more than five years, said Pacers Sports & Entertainment COO Rick Fuson. He would not give the exact length but said it runs concurrent with Levy’s suite catering deal. Palace Sports & Entertainment signed a five-year agreement with Levy after Centerplate and its predecessors, Volume Services and Volume Services America, enjoyed a 20-year run dating back to the arena’s opening in '88. The deal includes the arena’s 190 suites in addition to DTE Energy Music Theatre and Meadow Brook Music Festival, the two Detroit area amphitheaters Palace Sports operates. Palace Sports has been talking to Levy for the past two years about taking over concessions, according to Mario Etemad, the group’s Exec VP/Facilities Operations. In both cases, the teams wanted to upgrade regular concessions and saw Levy as the best option, officials said. For Chicago-based Levy, wholly owned by Compass Group, the deals are its 16th and 17th accounts with facilities housing NBA or NHL teams.

ANOTHER DROPPED CONTRACT FOR CENTERPLATE: Centerplate has now shed four contracts in the span of a month as its new owner Kohlberg & Co., a private equity firm, continues to evaluate which current deals make the most sense to retain as it rebuilds a firm that struggled financially as a publicly held entity. Besides the Palace, Centerplate is no longer the food provider at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, the Greensboro Coliseum and the Rose Bowl. Centerplate President & CEO Des Hague said he was disappointed to lose the two major league accounts. The Palace, for which Centerplate was paid an annual management fee tied to performance incentives, was the only one of the four venues that ranked among the vendor’s 50 most profitable deals, Hague said. “Both were lost due to improved terms by the competition ... and not through a failure of Centerplate to provide great service,” he said. Palace Sports will offer jobs to the 200 employees who worked for Centerplate, including 12 to 14 full-timers, Etemad said.

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