SBJ/April 26 - May 2, 2004/Facilities

Global Spectrum sister firm bids to snare Kemper food from Centerplate

Kemper Arena officials are negotiating a new food service agreement, which could give the Kansas City arena a new concessionaire for the first time since it opened in 1974.

Spartanburg, S.C., firm Centerplate has been a fixture there for 30 years, as it has at Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium, two other Kansas City sports venues.

Global Spectrum began managing the 30-year-old Kansas City arena in 2003.
Global Spectrum started managing the city-owned arena in 2003, and its sister company, Ovations Food Service, is bidding for the concessions. Global Spectrum hired independent consultant Chris Bigelow so “nobody could accuse us” of having a conflict of interest in determining the winning bid, said Mich Sauers, Global Spectrum’s president.

Sauers said there has always been an arm’s-length relationship in negotiations when the two Comcast-Spectacor subsidiaries are doing business at the same sports facility.

“There are actually two different situations,” he said. “One is where we have a financial stake, a vested interest in the venue. The other one is where we act as an agent on behalf of the building owner, where we have a fiduciary responsibility to get the best deal.”

Global Spectrum Senior Vice President Frank Russo said the firm will play an active role in selecting the future concessionaire, but added that it’s “not a slam dunk” that Ovations Food Service would get the contract.

Sauers said, “Centerplate has a better chance at winning the bid because they’ve been in the marketplace for all these years.” The bids are due May 15 with a decision expected by June, said Kemper Arena GM Larry Hovick.

Global Spectrum and Centerplate competed last year for the facility management contract, when Global and booking partner Anschutz Entertainment Group got the nod over Centerplate’s joint venture with the city.

EYE ON IOWA: Global Spectrum was close last week to signing a contract to manage the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, which includes Wells Fargo Arena, confirmed Russo and Sauers. In a separate deal, Global officials are negotiating to relocate the AHL Louisville Panthers to the 16,000-seat venue for the 2005-06 season. The Panthers, owned by Howard Baldwin, have been inactive since 2000-01.

FORE SALE: Pumpkin Ridge Associates of Portland is trying to bring naming-rights deals to the fairways, signing agreements to sell the names of five public golf courses.Pumpkin Ridge co-owner Greg Crawford thinks naming rights for golf courses could command $350,000 to $1 million annually, depending on the venue’s history and its ability to attract major tournaments and television exposure.

He’s discussed the concept with companies in telecommunications, the financial sector and health care, among other industries. “They understand the demographics of golf, that it attracts people with more expendable income,” he said.

Not everyone is as high on the idea. Jeff Knapple, CEO of naming-rights broker Envision, doesn’t think the concept translates to the golf world.

“Almost everything is being named these days, but that’s a little too much,” he said. “It’s not as if that money would be used for construction of the venue, as part of the financing plan.”

Crawford said, “What we’re hearing from our clients is that the money would be used for course improvements and that they could be able to keep the rates stable. You would not see as rapid an increase in greens fees.”

The firm approached the facilities, said Crawford, who was previously a media representative for turf grass and golf superintendent organizations.

Marvin French, another co-owner, is the founding partner of Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore., which opened in 1992 and has played host to the U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Amateur Championship. Chuck Ruttan, a New York lawyer, is the third partner.

“Between the three of us, we have 90 years of experience in golf,” said Crawford. “We have established a lot of connections.”

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

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