SBJ/20090126/This Week's News

Centerplate adds Pizza Hut Park to client list, awaits results of shareholder vote on acquisition

Hunt Sports Group has hired Centerplate to operate the food service at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, home to FC Dallas of the MLS.

The move coincides with Hunt’s effort to improve the quality of concessions at its three big league stadiums, which also include Crew Stadium in Columbus and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

Centerplate replaces Sodexho, a company whose sports clients are mostly college venues, at Pizza Hut Park. Sodexho remains the concessionaire at Crew Stadium.

Hunt Sports Group President John Wagner declined to disclose the contract’s length but said Centerplate would be paid a management fee instead of a profit-and-loss agreement, where the concessionaire makes a financial investment. A fee-based deal gives the team more control, Wagner said.

Bringing on Centerplate ties into the group’s recent hiring of Jim Fischer, a former Centerplate general manager based in Kansas City, where the firm runs the regular concessions for the Hunt-owned Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Levy Restaurants operates the stadium’s premium dining.

In December, Fischer was named to the newly created position of Hunt Sports Group’s manager of culinary and merchandise retail operations for Arrowhead, Crew Stadium and Pizza Hut Park.

“We are evaluating the concessions side of all our businesses,” Wagner said. “In the stadium, it’s the second-most important thing that goes on beyond the event.”

The move comes as publicly held Centerplate attempts to complete its sale to Kohlberg & Co. on Tuesday, pending shareholder approval.

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