SBD/January 4, 2013/Facilities

Soldier Field Management Contracts Out For Bid; SMG, AEG, Aramark In The Mix

Soldier Field's food-service contract also is likely to be a minimum of 10 years
A major contract battle has "broken out over renewal of lucrative pacts to manage and provide food services" at Soldier Field, with "bragging rights -- and a lot of money -- on the table, the contenders reportedly are loading up with some heavy political clout,” according to Greg Hinz of CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS. A request for bids already has been issued “to manage not only Soldier Field but two other facilities also owned by the Chicago Park District: the McFetridge Sports Center on the North Side, and the baseball stadium at Devon and Kedzie [avenues] formerly known as Thillens Stadium.” The district is “seeking a minimum 10-year deal, with up to five one-year extensions, for a maximum term of 15 years.” Soldier Field “clearly is the biggest prize on the table, with the winner responsible not only for day-to-day operation and maintenance of the complex but negotiating sponsorships and preferred vendors and recommending capital changes.” Pennsylvania-based SMG currently holds the contract, and “challenging with its own bid" is a division of L.A.-based AEG. The district said that it “hopes to award a new contact in February or March.” About to go out is a “request for bidders for the food-service contract, also likely to be a minimum of 10 years.” That contract currently is “held by the Sportservice Corp.” But a source said that Philadelphia-based Aramark also is “expected to bid, with rumors of a possible third contender” (, 1/2). Global Spectrum, operator of Sears Centre in the Chicago area, decided against submitting a bid to manage Soldier Field, according to company COO John Page. Global Spectrum competed for the Soldier Field deal five years ago, the last time the contract was up for renewal. Page said, “We bid it before, and based on the circumstances and conditions at that time, we didn’t feel it made sense to pursue" (Don Muret, SportsBusiness Journal).

LACE UP YOUR SKATES: Soldier Field next month "will host two days of public skating and other hockey events as part of the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic Winter Festival." Soldier Field on Feb. 17 is hosting a college hockey doubleheader, featuring Notre Dame against Miami (OH) and Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, the "first outdoor hockey events held at the stadium" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/4).
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