SBJ/Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 2014/Facilities

Levy, Professional Sports Catering discuss partnership to pursue minor league food deals

Levy Restaurants is in talks with minor league food provider Professional Sports Catering about forming a partnership to pursue new business.

Alison Weber, Levy’s chief innovations officer, and Aaron Salsbury, PSC’s manager of marketing and business development, confirmed that conversations are taking place between the two Chicago-based concessionaires. No deals have been signed, they said.

Levy and PSC submitted a joint proposal to run the food at Huntington Park in Columbus.
Photo by: COURTESY OF COLUMBUS CLIPPERS
“At this point, we continue to discuss partnership opportunities,” Weber said. “We think Pro Sports Catering is a great group.”

Those discussions are coming to a head, though, and an agreement is expected to be signed by the end of January and officially announced next month, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Professional Sports Catering CEO Tom Dickson, who also owns two minor league teams, the Class A Lansing (Mich.) Lugnuts and Class AA Montgomery (Ala.) Biscuits, did not return emails for comment. The same was true for PSC partner Greg Rauch, the Biscuits’ general manager.

What remains unclear is whether Levy Restaurants, owned by Compass Group, the world’s largest food service company, would buy Professional Sports Catering. PSC ownership, which extends to managing partner Sherrie Myers and partner Jonathan Harris, prefers a strategic partner and not a buyout, the source said. The 9-year-old company has 16 minor league baseball accounts and generates $30 million in annual revenue, and Levy’s goal is to boost that number to $100 million through the partnership, the source said.

PSC already has a strategic partnership with Mandalay Baseball, a group that owns four minor league clubs. It remains to be seen what happens to that relationship after the Levy agreement is completed. Art Matin, Mandalay Baseball’s president and CEO, did not return a phone call and email for comment.

Signs point to Levy and PSC already working together to land new accounts. About a month ago, Levy and PSC submitted a joint proposal to run the food at Huntington Park, home of the Columbus Clippers, the Cleveland Indians’ Class AAA farm team. The Clippers’ contract, a five-year agreement, is officially with Levy, said Ken Schnacke, entering his 38th season as the team’s president and general manager.

“They have some kind of partnership, but our deal is with Levy,” he said. Levy replaces Sodexo, the Clippers’ old vendor.

In addition to Huntington Park, Levy, primarily a major league food provider, has minor league deals at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, Neb., and Aces Ballpark in Reno, Nev. Next year, Levy adds the St. Paul Saints, an independent league team moving into a new $63 million ballpark.

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