SBJ/October 18-24, 2010/Facilities

Seven firms visit as Notre Dame considers hiring concessionaire

Notre DameRosseti
The new hockey arena being built at Notre Dame is one of the athletic facilities that concessionaires got a look at.
Notre Dame officials are talking to national food service providers as they consider hiring a third party to take over general concessions at the school’s seven athletic facilities, a business the university has operated in-house since the 1970s.

Representatives from seven firms attended the Oct. 9 Pitt-Notre Dame game to experience a football weekend and get a firsthand look at how things work at Notre Dame Stadium. They also got a peek at recently renovated Joyce Center and the 5,000-seat hockey arena under construction.

“We are looking at all the various options and opportunities, said David Prentkowski, Notre Dame’s director of food services.

Notre Dame’s goal is to improve the fan experience to keep up with upgrades to its existing facilities and newer venues, Prentkowski said. The school also has an eye on pushing concessions revenue beyond the $2 million annually that the school’s sports programs generate, he said.

The university plans to issue in early November a proposal developed by food consultant Chris Bigelow, Prentkowski said. Should the school decide to outsource concessions, a selection would be made by next spring.

The school plans to keep premium catering in-house, he said.

3-D CONSOL: The DirecTV SEC/Big East Invitational’s two games at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh will most likely be 3-D broadcasts, according to Jay Roberts, SMG’s general manager of the Penguins’ new arena.

As of last week, no decision had been made for using the new technology for the games, said officials from ESPN, the network airing them. The Dec. 11 doubleheader from Pittsburgh will feature Rutgers-Auburn and Pittsburgh-Tennessee.

Confirmation for all college basketball programming, including 3-D broadcasts, was expected soon, an ESPN rep said.

ESPN recently sent a production crew to Consol to assess the difficulty of setting up a 3-D broadcast there and were pleasantly surprised that the arena had everything in place to make it happen, Roberts said.

“They walked in and saw all the fiber and cabling we have throughout the building and the TV truck parking area, and said it was perfect,” he said. “That’s nice. Over at Mellon Arena [the Pens’ former home, built in 1961] it would have been a day or two running cable to do something like that.”

HUSKER DO: Sports designers should expect the University of Nebraska to issue a proposal this week for architectural services tied to a $56 million expansion of Memorial Stadium.

The school’s board of regents was to have met Friday to approve a project to build about 5,000 new seats above and around the stadium’s east balcony, a number that includes about 30 suites and 2,000 to 2,250 club seats.

Those premium seats, plus 2,800 general admission seats, are expected to generate roughly $7 million in new revenue annually, Athletic Director Tom Osborne said during an Oct. 8 news conference to announce the expansion.

Lincoln, Neb., architect Clark Enersen Partners consulted with Nebraska’s athletic department to develop the initial expansion plan, said John Ingram, associate athletic director of capital planning and construction.

Clark Enersen teamed with 360 Architecture to design the stadium’s north end expansion, a project completed in 2006. DLR Group, with offices in Lincoln and Omaha, designed the expansion before that, a new press box and suite structure in addition to concourse improvements.

Construction for the latest expansion could start in November 2011 and be completed by the fall of 2013, boosting Memorial Stadium’s seat total to more than 90,000. Next year, Nebraska moves from the Big 12 Conference to the Big Ten.

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