Ex-Padres exec takes development experience to Edmonton

Sports facility executive Richard Andersen could play a key role in developing a new NHL arena in Edmonton after being named president and CEO of Northlands, a 600-acre complex where the Oilers now play.

The Oilers are a tenant at 36-year-old Rexall Place, a facility Andersen will operate starting in early August, and the club has been pushing hard to build a new arena since Darryl Katz bought the team in February 2008.

Katz owns The Katz Group, a company that owns 1,800 drugstores in North America. The firm has proposed building a $400 million arena tied to a $1 billion downtown entertainment district. Local residents are opposed to using tax dollars to help fund the project, according to local reports.

Because the proposed development is still in question, it’s too early to say whether Andersen could get involved in developing the Oilers’ new digs.

For the record, Andersen, who left the San Diego Padres in late February and taught briefly at San Diego State this spring, said he had not talked with the Oilers about their proposed arena.


Long term, Andersen’s experience developing new MLB parks in San Diego and Pittsburgh, where he consulted on PNC Park, and spring training and minor league facilities tied to the Marlins and Braves, could serve the Oilers well in their effort to build a new venue.

Andersen’s résumé also includes a stint as president of Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami in the 1990s, where he oversaw upgrades and negotiated the contract to bring the Orange Bowl game to that facility, now known as Sun Life Stadium.

“Whether Northlands plays a meaningful role [operating a new arena], the thinking is such that I could clearly add value to those discussions,” Andersen said. “It’s a high priority for everyone.”

Meanwhile, Andersen will focus on operating Northlands’ multiple facilities, which play host to an Izod IndyCar Series race, the Canadian Finals Rodeo, thoroughbred horse racing and the Capital Ex, a summer fair. Northlands schedules 2,500 events annually, drawing 4 million spectators.

“The property is owned by the community with a volunteer board of directors and, the kicker is, every dime goes back into the community,” Andersen said. “At Northlands, I’m in the middle of helping to decide the future of a 130-year-old organization.”

Aramark brought its new barbecue theme
to Anaheim, opening Clyde Wright’s BBQ.

 BBQ BATTLE: Aramark, the food  provider for the 2010 MLB All-Star Game, is trying something new this year, staging a dueling barbecue contest tied to the game festivities in Anaheim.

The concessionaire has 12 MLB food accounts, six each in the American League and National League, including Angel Stadium. Chefs from each park will prepare signature dishes representing their respective markets. As of last week, the menus were still being prepared, said Aramark spokesman David Freireich.

Fans vote with their stomachs during the All-Star Game. The top seller among the 12 barbecued foods will determine the winner, Freireich said.

In Anaheim, Clyde Wright’s BBQ, a new stand inside Gate 1 serving beef brisket and pulled pork, has outperformed three older stands selling grilled sausages and other meats, said Joaquin Quesada, Aramark’s district manager for Southern California.

It’s Aramark’s latest barbecue theme, in which the vendor partners with a former player to put his name on a product sold by Aramark. In this case, Wright, who threw a no-hitter for the Angels in 1970, receives a fee for making frequent appearances and signing autographs, Quesada said.

 FINALS NUMBERS: Levy Restaurants posted a $30.53 per cap for food and drink during Game 7 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center, just 2 cents off the record numbers the arena set during the 2008 Finals.

Doing the math, total food and beverage sales were just short of $580,000 based on Game 7’s paid attendance of 18,997.

“That’s amazing when you factor in the economy was better in 2008 and we have 15 restaurants across from Staples Center now at L.A. Live,” said Lee Zeidman, the arena’s executive vice president and general manager.

The per cap was more than $300 at Hyde Lounge, the premium space arena owner AEG developed in a joint venture with Hollywood nightclub firm SBE. The high-dollar bottles of champagne were flowing freely as the Lakers beat the Celtics to win the NBA title, Zeidman confirmed.

Levy receives a fee to manage Hyde Lounge.

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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