SBJ/20100329/This Week's News

Michigan expected to name Sodexo as concessions vendor

Michigan and Ohio State have something else in common beyond one of college football’s most storied rivalries — they will soon share a sports food vendor.

Michigan athletic officials have selected Sodexo to operate general concessions and premium dining at Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena, Yost Ice Arena and several other sports venues on campus, according to industry sources.

Sodexo, the biggest player in college sports food service, is also the concessionaire at Ohio Stadium and Schottenstein Center’s Value City Arena in Columbus. In Ann Arbor, Sodexo held Michigan’s contract from 1989 to ’99 and replaces V/Gladieux Enterprises after that firm’s 11-year run.

A major focus of Sodexo’s business will be on
108,000-seat Michigan Stadium.

Jason Winters, Michigan athletics’ chief financial officer, said last week that the school is negotiating a five- to seven-year deal with one firm from among those it short-listed — Sodexo, Aramark and Centerplate — but would not confirm that it had chosen Sodexo.

A major piece of Sodexo’s business will focus on Michigan Stadium, a 108,000-seat building whose $226 million renovation with 82 new suites and 3,000 club seats opens this fall. Suite catering and club food selections, a notch above hot dogs and nachos, will be a new experience for Michigan fans.

Last year, Michigan athletics generated $3.2 million in gross food revenue at all sports facilities, $2.5 million alone for Michigan Stadium. The previous year, the numbers were $3.7 million and $2.9 million, respectively, reflecting an additional home football game, Winters said.

Those figures are expected to increase substantially after the stadium opens with new and upgraded food spaces. Revenue projections are still being worked out, Winters said.

Chris Bigelow, the school’s food consultant, said, “It’s certainly one of the most prestigious accounts [Sodexo] can have between the size of the facilities and the number of events.”

“The significance is they have a good client looking to make improvements,” he said.

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