SBJ/August 25 - 31, 2003/Facilities

Centerplate expands suite food options

Centerplate has reorganized its premium dining division, introducing six new luxury suite food packages for its five NFL and seven Major League Baseball facilities.

Test marketing started in the preseason at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville. Centerplate's rollout will expand next year to the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans and the Coliseum in Nashville as well as its MLB venues.

Senior Vice President Doug Drewes acknowledged that the competition played a role in the Spartanburg, S.C., firm's renewed focus on premium dining.

"It's not a matter of keeping up with the Joneses, it's keeping up with the Levys. My hat's off to them. Levy has set the standard out there for us, and we're here to exceed that standard," he said.

Centerplate shares premium dining responsibilities with Levy Restaurants in Jacksonville. Levy has premium food at 25 arenas and stadiums, including its most recent addition, Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Levy is expected to get FedEx Forum in Memphis.

In San Diego, per game prices for the packages, which serve 12 people, range from $180 to $750. They include a pregame assortment of snacks, fresh fruits and vegetables, and cookies and brownies.

Centerplate has also upgraded its premium beverage selections and plans to do more exhibition-style cooking on the club levels.

Officials are using the catering capabilities at Centerplate's 38 convention center accounts to implement those fine dining concepts into the sports venue environment.

Vice President of Catering John Vingas and Executive Chef Brett Lewis, both based at the San Diego Convention Center, are supervising the changeover. Upon the directive of new CEO Larry Honig, a "high-end food service task force" convened late last year, said Vingas.

"Our menus change every 12 months at the convention center and we try to be as cutting-edge as possible. Larry Honig wanted us to take the catering expertise out of the convention centers and move it rapidly into stadium premium services," Vingas said.

Last January's Super Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium provided the initial taste test. Vingas said the new packages, including beverages, resulted in "three-digit per caps."

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Baseball, Centerplate, Football, MLB, NFL

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