Compass Group North America, part of the world’s largest food service provider, has purchased a 49% interest in AEG Facilities, a subsidiary of AEG and an operator of arenas and stadiums. The deal expands a 12-year partnership between Compass-owned Levy Restaurants and AEG that began in '99 at Staples Center. Levy has operated concessions and premium dining at the L.A. arena since it opened 12 years ago. Overall, Levy has food deals at 42 major league arenas and stadiums, nine NASCAR tracks and two horse racing facilities, Arlington Park and Churchill Downs. Those deals extend to Barclays Center, the new NBA arena in Brooklyn, and the new Marlins Ballpark in Miami, two facilities opening in '12. Compass Group North America, whose headquarters are in Charlotte, generated $11B in revenue in '11. Compass Group PLC, its publicly-traded parent based in London, produced more than $25B in revenue this year from accounts spread over 50 countries. Compass bought 49% of Levy Restaurants in '00. Six years later, Compass purchased the remaining 51% of the Chicago-based concessions firm. AEG Facilities has management, operations support, and booking and marketing deals at 11 major league buildings among its 51 sports accounts worldwide. AEG co-owns the MLS Dynamo, which is opening its new $80M stadium in May. Globally, AEG Facilities is developing arenas in Brazil, China and Sweden, and is a consultant for the VTB Bank sports complex in Moscow, a $1.5B project. The Compass-AEG deal was announced last Wednesday.
The ’12 London Olympics “promise to be an exercise, more than anything, in architectural restraint” thanks to “old-fashioned British reserve and concerns about avoiding the white-elephant syndrome that has plagued many if not most host cities,” according to architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne of the L.A. TIMES. The differences in architectural tone between the London Games and ’08 Beijing Games “would be tough to overstate.” If the Beijing Olympics “were about national pride,” London organizers have “concentrated on planning for the post-Olympic future of their site, for what they refer to as its ‘legacy’ condition.” The main Olympic Stadium is “the clearest sign of that spirit of leanness.” Ringed by a “superstructure of white triangular supports, it's a building that looks almost unfinished -- or like scaffolding for another, more ambitious piece of architecture.” But there is “undeniably something appealing in a frank, bare-bones way about its proportions and its honesty.” The stadium is “designed as the anti-Bird's Nest, to be sure,” but it is a “pretty good building in its own right.” And if the collection of buildings in Olympic Park “has a pragmatic streak, from the perspective of infrastructure and landscape architecture, there is little simple or stripped-down about the 2012 site and its relationship to the rest of London.” The aquatic center, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, is divided into "two sections, one permanent and one temporary.” The “legacy version, which will seat 3,000, is typical Hadid: a stunning column-free interior beneath an undulating roof, with diving platforms that look like liquid sculpture.” Hawthorne wrote the “practicality of the architecture” in London’s venues is “a reaction to the economic rather than the political excesses of the recent past.” The '12 Games are “shaping up, in fact, as one of the clearest signs yet that the architectural boom years of the last decade or so in the West have definitively ended” (L.A. TIMES, 11/27).