SBJ/July 21-27, 2014/Facilities

Circuit of Americas hires new concessionaire prior to F1 event

Three months before the third annual U.S. Grand Prix takes place in Austin, Texas, Circuit of the Americas has hired a new concessionaire.

Ryan Sanders Sports Services, in-house food provider at the Class AAA ballpark Dell Diamond, has signed a 10-year deal to run general concessions and premium dining at the Formula One racetrack. Financial terms were not disclosed.

George King, president of Ryan Sanders Sports Services, said his firm expects to take over the food operation in the fall after track officials complete the terms of Sodexo’s exit from the facility.

Surveys showed fans wanted upgraded food.
Photo by: KEITH RIZZO

The agreement with Ryan Sanders abruptly ends Sodexo’s relationship with COTA after the concessionaire launched its operation there in 2012, the year the track opened, and managed food at the first two Grand Prix events. Sodexo also runs food for F1 races in Europe and India and had eight years left on its 10-year deal in Austin. The company leveraged its F1 experience overseas to help win the original contract, said Chris Bigelow, the consultant COTA used to select a concessionaire.

Jason Dial, COTA’s president and CEO, was on vacation last week. But he responded to a few questions by email, stating that the change in vendors was driven by consistent feedback from guest surveys informing track officials they “had an opportunity” to improve the overall fan experience.

Upgrading the food was part of the feedback, Dial said. McCombs Partners, the track’s owner, considered several concessionaires before awarding the business to Ryan Sanders, known as RS3.

“We are comfortable with RS3’s corporate youthfulness as ownership from both companies are very familiar with each other and committed to excellence,” Dial wrote.

The sudden switch came as a surprise to Martin Thorson, a Sodexo vice president responsible for the Austin track. Most recently, Sodexo posted $30 per caps for the X Games and $20-plus per caps for 15 concerts this year at the Austin360 Amphitheater on the property, Thorson said. “There were no default notices,” he said. “We produced some of the highest revenue numbers out there.”

Track officials declined to say whether COTA’s contract with Sodexo contained an early termination clause.

RS3 is a subsidiary of Ryan Sanders Baseball, owner of the Round Rock Express, which plays at Dell Diamond. Baseball hall of famer Nolan Ryan and sons Reid and Reese Ryan are business partners with Don, Bret and Brad Sanders.

Ryan Sanders’ food service group, a spinoff, was formed last fall before taking over at Round Rock this season, said Jay Kudla, the firm’s regional director.

Kudla, a sports food veteran with 23 years of experience, is spearheading the COTA operation. He spent 19 years at Centerplate.

Brian Smith will be RS3’s general manager at COTA. Smith spent 14 years managing food and retail concessions at LP Field.

Return to top

Related Topics:

Facilities

Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug