SBJ/March 20 - 26, 2006/Facilities

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  • Football country: Chesney will return to NFL stadiums

    Don Muret

    The Gridiron Stadium Network helped Ford Field in Detroit and Qwest Field in Seattle book Kenny Chesney's "The Road and the Radio" tour this summer after the organization used Chesney's 2005 concerts at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., as a test model.

    Eleven NFL teams, including the Lions and the Seahawks, formed the network in 2005 to lobby the entertainment industry for non-football events at their venues. They committed to paying the nonprofit group's annual fees of $25,000 apiece.Group officials have developed a relationship with Louis Messina, Chesney's exclusive tour promoter, as part of their effort to steer more concert dates to their buildings, said Steve Klegon, the Green Bay Packers' network representative.

    Three other NFL stadiums that will host Chesney shows this summer — Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., and Nashville Coliseum — are home to non-network members and secured dates without the network's help.

    The Packers operate Lambeau Field, and the team, the promoter and Chesney's booking agent decided it did not make sense to schedule the event at their facility after Chesney played two shows in March 2005 at Resch Center, across the street from the stadium, Klegon said. Chesney instead is performing four dates elsewhere in Wisconsin, including Aug. 3 at Kohl Center in Madison.

    Last summer, The Messina Group/AEG Live, co-owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group, reported grosses of $3.4 million at Heinz Field, $3.3 million at Gillette Stadium and $2.9 million at FedEx Field, according to Billboard magazine.

     COMPETITION BUILDING: Turner Construction and Hunt Construction are competing for the opportunity to build a new NFL stadium for the San Francisco 49ers, industry sources said.

    The two contractors have built a combined 11 NFL facilities and renovated many others, and they were the only two firms the team invited to bid for the job, sources said. Their bids are due today, and interviews are scheduled March 23-24 in San Francisco.

    Fans check out a merchandise stand at a World
    Baseball Classic matchup in San Juan.

    The 49ers plan to pair a national contractor with local firm Devcon Construction, a company that has worked for the team on stadium development. Together, they will team with a sports facility architect to deliver a design-build project.

    The team shortlisted HKS, HNTB and HOK Sport for the stadium's programming and design services, sources said. Seven architects were thought to have received proposals.

     GLOBAL COMMERCE: World Baseball Classic merchandise per caps averaged between $7 and $8 for the first 25 games at six North American ballparks and surpassed $10 for the Japan-USA game March 12 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, said Alan Fey, co-owner for XP Events, the event concessionaire.

    "There's a patriotic passion," said Fey, supervising the souvenir stands at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. "It's not about the players, it's about the countries."

    Team jerseys bearing a player's name are selling for $110, and jerseys that are blank on the back are $90. Fitted caps are $35 and adjustable hats $20 to $25. T-shirts are $18 to $25.

    Fans attending the Italy-Venezuela game March 8 in San Juan bought all 300 Venezuela team jerseys available in a half-hour before the game started. Fey credited MLB vendors Antigua, Majestic, New Era and others for reacting quickly to restock the venues, especially in Puerto Rico, where it's more expensive for U.S. suppliers to ship merchandise overnight.

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

    Print | Tags: Football, NFL, FedEx, TES, Green Bay Packers, Fox, Turner Construction, San Francisco 49ers, NTRA, TRAC, Facilities, Baseball, HNTB, USTA, MLB, New Era, Don Muret
  • More turmoil at the top isn’t breaking Centerplate

    Recent changes in the corporate office of concessionaire Centerplate, which this month named its third CEO in 11 months, haven’t hurt its big league business.

    Centerplate won a food contract for Newark’s
    new arena, shown in an HOK rendering.
    Since Centerplate forced Larry Honig to resign as CEO in April 2005 for conduct unrelated to the company’s performance, the company has renewed contracts for three big league clients and won a 10-year food contract for Newark Arena, the New Jersey Devils’ $310 million facility scheduled to open in 2007. (Centerplate lost to Levy Restaurants in the bid to replace Aramark at Qwest Field in Seattle.)

    Chief operating officer Janet Steinmayer moved up to CEO after Paul MacPhail, the former Uno’s Restaurant executive named to replace Honig in September 2005, left Centerplate on March 1 to start his own company outside the concessions business, Centerplate officials said.

    Centerplate executives were upfront about what was happening in upper management while they were negotiating to be the Devils’ food provider, a process that started before MacPhail became CEO, said Jeff Vanderbeek, the Devils’ chairman and managing partner.

    “Initially, everything we did was with Janet and I felt very comfortable,” he said.

    Centerplate signed a five-year contract for regular concessions and premium dining at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis when the Colts’ $500 million facility opens in 2008. Centerplate has been the team’s concessionaire since 1983, when the Colts moved from Baltimore to the RCA Dome.

    “We don’t anticipate any issues related to what’s going on at the corporate level,” said Pete Ward, Colts senior executive vice president.

    The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission in Minneapolis renewed Centerplate’s contract in November for the next six years at the Metrodome. Centerplate has operated the dome’s concessions since it opened in 1982. Aramark has the stadium’s suite contract.

    “For our situation, the [on-site] general manager’s position has always been first and foremost the most critical aspect,” said Dennis Alfton, the Metrodome’s director of operations.

    “Most existing clients could care less about the corporate office,” said Chris Bigelow, a food service consultant and former Centerplate and Aramark employee. “When you’re going after new business, however, what’s going on at corporate is always fodder for the competition to use.”

    Centerplate’s stock, listed on the American Stock Exchange, has traded between $12 and $13 a share for much of the last 12 months and closed last Tuesday at $12.50.

    The company reported during its March 8 earnings call that 24 percent of its net sales for 2005, or about $155 million, are up for renewal in 2006, and 10 percent of that business has been retained. Centerplate officials would not disclose how many are sports facility accounts.

    The looming question is whether Centerplate will retain its biggest account and oldest client, the New York Yankees. Yankee Stadium is the most lucrative concessions contract in sports; the facility generated about $63 million in food and merchandise revenue in 2004.

    The Yankees have been considering food and merchandise vendors for their new $800 million ballpark since August.

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