SBJ/November 10 - 16, 2003/Facilities

Mudcats add restaurant, picnic area

The Carolina Mudcats are upgrading their concession operation at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, N.C.

The Class AA franchise signed a five-year food service contract with Game Time Food & Beverage of Libertyville, Ill., which coincides with $3.4 million worth of capital improvements to include a 4,400-square-foot full-service restaurant and new picnic area.

The Mudcats will pay the suburban Chicago firm a $250,000 management fee, according to Steve Blumenthal, Game Time's vice president of marketing. Team owner Steve Bryant will invest $250,000 to $300,000 in equipment. The Mudcats operated food service in-house for 15 years.

"One of the reasons we decided to go with a concessionaire is that we're taking things to a whole new level. We talked to a number of companies over the years but decided a smaller one would give us more of a hands-on approach," said Carolina GM Joe Kremer.

The first-base-side restaurant, with seating for 250, will be available for off-season dates such as Christmas parties and corporate events, according to Kremer. Patrons will have a view of the game during the season.

The picnic area, called the Cabana Club, will be down the left-field line with a platform that could be used for booking live entertainment, said Eric Gardner, Mudcats assistant GM. The team hired Clearscapes of Raleigh, about 20 miles to the west, as the architect.

Five County Stadium, 85 percent owned by Wake County and 15 percent by the town of Zebulon, opened in 1991, but several ballpark features were not complete. A two-year renovation in 1999-2000 added $17 million worth of improvements.

The latest project, financed through hotel/restaurant taxes, also encompasses permanent staff facilities, new ticket boxes, a visitors clubhouse and a permanent maintenance building.

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