SBJ/June 23 - 29, 2003/This Weeks Issue

SBC retail shops, concessionaires big winners in Game 6

Aramark and Levy Restaurants tripled their normal sales totals for food and beverage during Game 6 of the NBA Finals on June 15 at SBC Center, establishing arena-record numbers as the host San Antonio Spurs clinched the title against the New Jersey Nets.

Don Hoy, Aramark's on-site GM, said it was the "best night we've had yet" at the 8-month-old, 19,000-seat arena. When the Fan Shop retail store opened its doors 15 minutes after the victory, more than 10,000 championship hats and T-shirts flew off the shelves for $20-$25, he said.

Aramark and Levy would not reveal total sales or per capita dollar figures.

Arena manager Steve Zito said the Fan Shop stayed open until 5 a.m. June 17 and reopened at 8 a.m. Crowds started forming again at 7 outside the store.

"We had the [exclusive] opportunity and all the local stores have those items now," Hoy said. "We had a captive audience that wanted that stuff right away. We prepared the championship gear as soon as they clinched. It was an unbelievable night in merchandise."

Aramark increased its normal 175 points of sale (with portables) to include three merchandise tents outside the building and a large auxiliary stand near the store entrance inside the venue.

The concessionaire easily reached the teens in thousands of units sold for beer, soda pop and water, said Hoy. "It was all about the excitement," he said. "We sold more beverages than anything else."

Aramark operates an upscale concession/restaurant called "Headlines," themed with the San Antonio Express-News title sponsorship. Capacity is 194, with a combination of tables and counter space. Shrimp scampi with jasmine rice, Southwest-style pork loin sandwiches and Italian focaccia club sandwiches made up the menu for Game 6.

"We try different dishes and rotate them on a two- to three-game cycle," said Hoy. "What's unique about it is that anyone with a ticket to the venue can come in and have an upscale meal."

Headlines has proved to be a "destination" spot since the building opened, he said. "It's a quick hit — they sit down, eat and go. It's a very nice area to get something other than hot dogs and nachos."

Levy, providing premium food service to 60 suites, 1,875 club seats and two exclusive clubs, sold 20 to 30 cases of champagne starting in the fourth quarter as patrons "had a feeling they were going to party that night," said Chris Barnes, director of operations.

The Terrace Club menu upgraded its menu to feature seared ahi tuna and prime rib and Levy's version of shrimp scampi.

Barnes said the crowd atmosphere at SBC Center topped Stanley Cup Game 7 in 2001 when the Colorado Avalanche won the NHL title at Pepsi Center in Denver. He opened the arena there before moving to San Antonio.

CEO Larry Levy noted that this was his firm's fourth consecutive year having a client win the NBA championship. Levy also has premium food at Staples Center in Los Angeles, home of the Lakers.

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