SBJ/September 19 - 25, 2005/Facilities

Concessionaires line up for chance at Metrodome account

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission in Minneapolis conducted a pre-bid meeting among seven food providers last Tuesday to discuss the proposal for a six-year general concessions contract at the Metrodome, home of the Twins, Vikings and University of Minnesota football.

The new contract runs through 2011, concurrent with the Vikings and Gophers’ stadium leases, said Dennis Alfton, the dome’s director of operations. The Twins’ lease is a year-to-year arrangement, he said.

The three tenants are actively seeking to build their own facilities. The commission hasn’t decided the dome’s future and business contracts should the Twins, Vikings and Gophers move out before 2011, Alfton said.

Centerplate, the incumbent since the facility opened in 1982, and Aramark, Boston Culinary Group, Levy Restaurants, Ovations Food Services, Delaware North Sportservice and St. Paul-based Prom Catering had representatives attending the meeting, Alfton said.

Centerplate has handled general concessions since the Metrodome opened in 1982.
The dome generated $22.5 million in food and beverage revenue from 120 event days in 2004, and Centerplate’s take was $500,000, Alfton said.

Under the terms of the existing contract, the concessionaire receives 5 percent of the net profit from food and beverage sales after all expenses are paid, including the cost of goods and wages.

The commission is responsible for capital improvements, he said.

Centerplate received 10 percent of the net profit from concessions from 1982 through 1986, before the number was reduced to 5 percent in 1987, Alfton said.

“We’re proposing that it stay the same,” he said. “They’re open to propose whatever they want.”

Proposals are due Oct. 4, and the commission’s seven-member board of directors expects to make a decision in early November, Alfton said.

Aramark has the premium food account for the stadium’s 97 suites, including the new 125-person terrace skybox, after acquiring Minnesota Viking Food Service in 2003 from former Vikings owner Red McCombs.

The catering deal is effective through 2011, Alfton said.

The Metrodome is Centerplate’s second big-league account out for bid in recent weeks, following new Yankee Stadium.

Centerplate also has the Indianapolis Colts as a client at the RCA Dome. The team was on the verge of signing a 30-year lease with the Capital Improvement Board, the landlord for the new NFL facility planned in Indy, before going forward with selecting a concessionaire, said Pete Ward, Colts senior executive vice president.

NETS HIRE PIEPER: Frank Gehry, the designer in charge of planning the New Jersey Nets’ new arena in Brooklyn, has hired independent sports architect Jim Pieper to consult on practical issues related to the facility’s seating bowl.

Team owner Bruce Ratner and Michael Hallmark, another sports facility designer working full time to develop the building’s revenue-generating components, approved Pieper’s involvement.

Pieper’s job is to complete a peer review of arena plans relating to “opportunities and conflicts that require adjustments as they move into design and development” of the building, he said.

“I’m going to help them understand what elements need to happen so they don’t arbitrarily change something and say later, ‘We made a huge gaffe,’” Pieper said.

Pieper, formerly with Ellerbe Becket, HOK Sport and, most recently, HNTB, started his own practice about two years ago in Kansas City.

FAMILIAR TERRITORY: For Hallmark and Ron Turner, his former design partner, last week’s New York Times report that Cablevision is considering a plan to tear down Madison Square Garden and build a new arena across the street brought to mind a plan that Gulf & Western, the arena’s previous owner, researched in the late 1980s.

Hallmark and Turner originally worked on the MSG project dating back almost 20 years, and they continued to spend time researching options for new construction and renovation throughout their tenures at HNTB, Ellerbe Becket and NBBJ.

Both architects were employed with Ellerbe Becket when MSG officials hired the firm to design the Garden’s most recent renovation, completed in 1991.

Turner has maintained his relationship with the facility since that time and was involved in planning future Garden upgrades as recently as 2004 as a principal with Turner-Meis & Associates in Los Angeles.

Cablevision also hired Brisbin Brook Beynon to consult on designing a new arena at the same time Turner was working for MSG.

“The Garden had a dual design effort going on, one being the renovation and the other designing a new building on a number of different sites, including a study of the Farley building, which we were providing,” said Turner, now with RTKL Associates. “It was pretty unusual, but they wanted some objectivity.”

The James A. Farley Post Office, one block west of the arena, is being converted into a public transit facility, and Cablevision has been targeting that site for several years to build a new arena, Turner said.

“There’s a couple of ways to make it work,” he said. “I spent a lot of time walking that building and know every square inch of it.”

Cablevision eventually selected Brisbin Brook Beynon over HOK Sport in late 2004 to design what MSG officials said would be a major renovation approaching $400 million.

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

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