The Kansas City Wizards have hired Global Spectrum to operate their new stadium, scheduled to open sometime next summer.
Global Spectrum signed a five-year deal to manage the $160 million facility, which will have 33 suites, two premium clubs and a 60,000-square-foot entertainment plaza. Populous’ design has a 360-degree canopy covering the building’s 18,500 seats, similar to that of another MLS stadium, Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
The stadium is on a fast-paced,
14 1/2-month construction schedule, a daunting task, said Robb Heineman, the team’s president and CEO. As such, the Wizards thought it was in their best interests to hire an expert to ramp up stadium operations, Heineman said.
There was no RFP process, but the club spoke with other facility management firms, Heineman said. Those talks included AEG, the firm that runs Sprint Center, Kansas City’s downtown arena. Its sister company AEG Live promotes many shows that come through the market every year.
In selecting Global Spectrum, the Wizards are confident in Global’s ability to work with AEG, Live Nation and independent promoters to support soccer matches with concerts and other events, he said.
“From a cultural standpoint, we felt Global Spectrum was the best fit,” Heineman said. “We like the way they try to exceed customer expectations. The political ramifications [of hiring somebody other than AEG] did not concern us a whole lot.”
The Wizards’ goal is to book 25 special events annually on top of the same number of MLS home games and other soccer matches.
The deal marks Global Spectrum’s return to the Kansas City sports and entertainment scene after the firm operated Kemper Arena from mid-2003 to the end of 2007. During that period, Larry Hovick, now AEG Live’s local contact in Kansas City, was Global’s general manager at Kemper.
In early 2008, AEG stepped in at Kemper as part of its deal with city officials to invest $50 million to help build new Sprint Center in exchange for the long-term rights to operate both arenas.
Global Spectrum also operates PPL Park, the newest MLS venue, for the Philadelphia Union. The Union made the decision to hire Ovations Food Services and New Era Tickets for concessions and ticketing. All three are Comcast-Spectacor firms.
The Wizards have considered Ovations and New Era and are talking with other vendors, Heineman said. Those deals will be announced in a few weeks.
The team continues to market naming rights and six to eight founding partner deals on its own, he said.
BUILD A BETTER BOARD: The folks at Daktronics should consider sending Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones a thank-you note after Cowboys Stadium opened last year with the NFL’s first center-hung scoreboard. Mitsubishi Electric produced the trendsetting behemoth, but elsewhere in the NFL, Daktronics is reaping the benefits of that project.
After seeing what the Cowboys did, the Ravens, Redskins and Patriots spent millions of dollars with Daktronics in the offseason to expand end zone screens at their facilities to boost the in-stadium experience and compete against home theater systems, a point driven home by the league office.
Daktronics also produced the four corner scoreboards at New Meadowlands Stadium, the first NFL facility to incorporate that particular design.
All told, Daktronics has technology in place at 29 of the NFL’s 31 stadiums. Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo and Qwest Field in Seattle are the exceptions, according to Mark Steinkamp, Daktronics’ senior marketing director.
Daktronics considers the Cowboys a client after the team bought four large portable displays from the company for use on the plazas outside Cowboys Stadium, Steinkamp said. Fans buying standing-room party passes have access to those screens during Cowboys home games.
Don Muret can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.