SBJ/November 24 - 30, 2003/Facilities

Global Spectrum, SMG play up their industry ties in Arizona bids

Global Spectrum and SMG, the nation's two largest facility management firms, are calling in their connections in the battle to operate the Arizona Cardinals' new stadium in Glendale.

The prize is a multiyear contract to manage the $355.3 million, 73,000-seat venue, future home of the Arizona Cardinals, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and 2008 Super Bowl. The stadium opens in August 2006.

Global Spectrum's proposal to the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority is leveraging a strong local connection with partner International Facilities Group, a Chicago-based consultant hired by the authority to assist in designing the Cardinals' stadium. In addition, the city of Glendale, not affiliated with the authority, paid IFG to consult on the new arena for the NHL Coyotes, which opens across the street from the stadium Dec. 26.

Top management firms want the contract at the Cardinals’ new home, shown in a rendering.
IFG includes principal Terry Savarise, vice president of operations at U.S. Cellular Field and United Center in Chicago. Formed in 1995, IFG has worked with pro sports owners and municipalities on projects that include three NFL buildings: Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Invesco Field in Denver and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

IFG has another local proponent in Glendale Arena GM Ron Woodbridge, who formerly worked for Savarise at United Center before going to the Rose Garden in Portland, another IFG client.

Global Spectrum Senior Vice President Frank Russo acknowledged the advantage of forging the IFG alliance. "They are already familiar with all the players there," he said. "They're already on the ground and have an active relationship with the city of Glendale."

This would be Global Spectrum's second major league stadium account, after signing a management support deal with the Philadelphia Phillies at their new Citizens Bank Park.

SMG, the heavyweight champion of private management, has five NFL stadiums among 160 worldwide accounts, including new Soldier Field and the Louisiana Superdome. Last year, SMG opened Reliant Stadium in Houston for the NFL Texans, a facility that has a retractable roof and a removable playing surface similar to the one planned for the Cardinals' stadium.

SMG enclosed in its bid a "letter of support" from dominant event promoter Clear Channel Entertainment focusing on a marketing and booking relationship, said a source familiar with the proposal. That's a key element based on what Brad Parker, authority spokesman, noted are the 352 days a year the stadium is available beyond the Cardinals and the Fiesta Bowl.

It's unclear how many other management firms are candidates, but AEG Facilities is also thought to have bid. The authority, composed of nine local volunteers, is in the midst of due diligence. It will hear presentations and travel to facilities operated by the bidders before awarding the contract sometime in January, said Parker.

STREETS OF CHARLOTTE: The new $200 million Charlotte Arena,

Ellerbe Becket plans to bring an idea from downtown Charlotte inside the new arena.
opening in 2005 for the NBA Bobcats, will feature a series of four sponsored "galleries" themed after the four statues at Trade and Tryon streets, the heart of downtown Charlotte, that depict transportation, commerce, industry and the future.

"That's the concept we are layering into the food courts," said Ron Gans, associate and senior project designer with the arena's architect, Ellerbe Becket. "We're going to create zones that helped build the idea of the success of Charlotte."

The transportation gallery will focus in part on the Wright Brothers' historic first flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903. The concessions there may be themed as an old airline hangar with corrugated metal. The industry concept would incorporate the area's textile mills. The commerce theme would take into account the city's status as a banking stronghold, home to Bank of America and Wachovia headquarters. And the future? "That's the event — the fact that the outcome of a basketball game is unknown at the outset," said Gans.

IN TALL COTTON: The textile industry will also play a role in a 5,000-seat minor league ballpark planned for Corpus Christi, Texas. Construction will start in April, and the Class AA Round Rock Express, owned by baseball hall of famer Nolan Ryan, will relocate there in 2005.

Ryan recently acquired the Class AAA Edmonton Trappers and will move the Montreal Expos affiliate to Dell Diamond, the Express' current home in Round Rock, an Austin suburb.

The $15 million Corpus Christi facility is planned for an area that once had warehouses containing "cotton presses and big boilers" near the Gulf of Mexico, said HKS architect Don Williams.

"We're just starting the design but will be incorporating some of that history," he said. "The site is unique in that it sits underneath a big steel bridge that stands over a channel where the tankers come in. It's one block from the water. All the cotton ships come into these ports."

The city-owned stadium will have 16 luxury suites and a grass berm to accommodate 2,000 fans.

LEVY IN MEMPHIS: The Memphis Grizzlies are to announce today that they have signed a multiyear, all-inclusive food service contract with Levy Restaurants at FedEx Forum, opening in 2004. It's Levy's 13th NBA account. Grizzlies VP of Operations Mike Golub said FedEx Forum will have four restaurants, three of them exclusive to premium seat patrons. The city's Beale Street entertainment district will be a theme throughout the arena.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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