SBJ/20090525/This Week's News

Magic Johnson-Sodexo bid wins nod at Rose Bowl

SodexoMagic, a joint venture between former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson and food provider Sodexo, has won a two-year contract to operate concessions at the Rose Bowl Stadium, home to the BCS game and UCLA football.

“They haven’t signed the deal yet, but we were informed that we didn’t get it, and it was down to us and them,” said Chris Verros, executive vice president of Boston Culinary Group.

Chris Bigelow, the consultant managing the process, confirmed the finalists but would not say a decision was made. Officials with Sodexo and Magic Johnson Enterprises did not return phone calls for comment.

The deal would be the first in sports for three-year-old SodexoMagic, 51 percent owned by Johnson’s Magic Food Provisions, a subsidiary of Magic Johnson Enterprises. Sodexo, a company with $6 billion in annual revenue, owns the remaining 49 percent.

Centerplate has handled Rose Bowl
concessions for more than 20 years.

The 10-year joint venture’s original plan was to pursue opportunities including dining and high-end catering service at college campuses, hospitals and corporate locations. To date, however, SodexoMagic has done few deals, according to SportsBusiness Journal research. In sports, the joint venture bid unsuccessfully in 2006 for the New Jersey Nets’ food contract at Barclays Center, the franchise’s planned arena in Brooklyn, N.Y., team officials confirmed. The Nets chose Levy Restaurants.

Sodexo, based in Gaithersburg, Md., is entrenched in college sports concessions and has stadium food contracts at four Pac-10 Conference schools: Arizona State, California, Oregon State and Washington, Bigelow said.

“They have a big presence on the West Coast, but their bigger division is in campus dining,” he said.

Johnson has a presence in Pasadena, Calif., home of the Rose Bowl, with an ownership stake in a local Starbucks, Bigelow said.

SodexoMagic would replace Centerplate, a company that held the Rose Bowl contract for more than 20 years. The deal, with two one-year options, expires in 2011, when Rose Bowl officials hope to start an estimated $160 million renovation.

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