SBJ/November 5-11, 2012/Facilities

Centerplate launches entirely mobile point-of-sale system

Don Muret
Centerplate has launched new technology at the University of South Carolina that company officials say is the first entirely mobile point-of-sale system at a sports facility.

The food and retail vendor invested about $250,000 to equip concession stands with 166 computer tablets at Williams-Brice Stadium, the SEC school’s 80,250-seat stadium. The tablets, purchased through Sprint, have credit card readers attached and are mounted on top of cash registers.

Using a cloud-based point-of-sale application branded as Premiyum! and developed by Apptico Technology Group, a California software firm, Centerplate workers can more efficiently process transactions, whether via cash, credit card or debit card.

The University of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium is using the new system that incorporates computer tablets that have credit card readers attached.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
In addition to the tablets, Centerplate’s investment covered Wi-Fi upgrades at the 78-year-old stadium to accommodate the mobile technology, said Greg Lesperance, the vendor’s senior vice president, chief accounting officer and chief information officer. The benefits, according to Lesperance, include greater speed of service, the system’s flexibility to connect with other wireless payment systems for the school and the development of fan loyalty programs.

Before this season, there was no broad point-of-sale system at the stadium. Centerplate used cash drawers and wireless credit card machines that struggled with connectivity due to the increase in smartphone use by Gamecocks fans attending the games, said Michael Jennings, Centerplate’s general manager and regional vice president in Columbia, S.C. As a result, there were often long lines at concession stands and frequent complaints, Jennings said.

The tablets, coupled with the Wi-Fi upgrades, resolved the customer-service issue, and food and drink per caps have gone up by almost 50 cents a game at Williams-Brice with two home games remaining. Quicker transaction times have led to credit card sales more than doubling to $45,000 a game compared with the older system, Jennings said.

The tablets allow Centerplate to provide a less expensive solution compared with purchasing a traditional point-of-sale system at three to four times the cost of Apptico’s software, Lesperance said.

“To be brutally honest, without insulting our point-of-sale vendors, we didn’t see them responding quickly enough to this opportunity,” Lesperance said. “We have been begging them to look at something like this for the past five years.”

The flexibility of the mobile devices enables Centerplate to move the tablets to Colonial Life Arena, the school’s basketball facility, as well as to South Carolina’s baseball and softball venues. The concessionaire will make those moves for the winter and spring sports seasons, Jennings said.

In the major leagues, Centerplate is testing the tablets for about 3,000 club seats at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, home of the NFL Broncos. The plan is to expand the system to Centerplate’s two dozen college and pro accounts, Lesperance said.

> LAYOFFS: HNTB has laid off an undisclosed number of sports architects, confirmed Tim Cahill, a principal in the firm’s Kansas City office.

One sports designer affected is Marty Haynes, director of design for HNTB, industry sources said. Haynes’ recent projects included working on an athletics master plan at Duke University covering proposed upgrades to Cameron Indoor Stadium and Wallace Wade Stadium.

Cahill would not provide details on who was let go or the number of layoffs.

Haynes, reached through a third party, did not want to talk about his departure.

HNTB is the architect for the San Francisco 49ers’ $1.2 billion stadium under construction in Santa Clara, Calif. The firm’s layoffs do not affect the project, said team spokeswoman Carey Marin. The facility is ahead of schedule and set to open in August 2014.

The same is true in Orlando, where HNTB is in the early stages of designing a $175 million renovation of Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, said Allen Johnson, executive director of Orlando Venues.

At Duke, where HNTB spent about four years completing a two-phase master plan, the firm will be “strongly considered” for the jobs to design improvements for the school’s arena and stadium, said Mike Cragg, senior associate director of athletics for the Duke Basketball Legacy Fund.

> CONNECT THE DOTS: The Los Angeles Dodgers have hired John Stranix as project manager for proposed renovations to Dodger Stadium. Stranix, an owner’s representative, has ties to Dodgers President Stan Kasten dating to the development of Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., which opened in 2008. Stranix managed the project for Kasten, who at the time was president of the Nationals.

In Los Angeles, Stranix will work directly with ballpark developer Janet Marie Smith, whom Kasten hired earlier this year to plan upgrades for the 50-year-old ballpark. The Dodgers have yet to announce specific plans for long-term stadium improvements.

Before working on Nationals Park, Stranix served as owner’s representative for Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia; and Verizon Center in Washington, home of the Capitals and Wizards.

In Atlanta, Kasten and Smith worked together developing the post-Olympics retrofit of Turner Field and Philips Arena.

> SMELLS LIKE VICTORY: Kroenke Sports & Entertainment recently named Steve Govett vice president of new business development.

Company officials in Denver created the new position to manage off-the-field opportunities for KSE’s properties, which include the Avalanche, Nuggets, Rapids and Mammoth, as well as the Pepsi Center, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and regional sports network Altitude.

Govett has worked for KSE for 10 years as president and general manager of the Mammoth, the National Lacrosse League team that plays its home games at Pepsi Center. He will continue his role with the Mammoth, reporting to Jim Martin, Kroenke Sports’ CEO.

“Essentially, the intent was to create a clearinghouse at KSE for new business opportunities,” Govett said. “Kroenke has a presence in a number of leagues and real estate holdings, and my job is to pull it all together, leveraging technology, sponsorships, properties and events.”

One project in which Govett will be principally involved is Victory Crossing, a public-private partnership calling for the commercial development of 250 acres of land next to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the 20,000-seat MLS stadium in Commerce City, a Denver suburb.

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

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