Ohio State Inks Multiyear Deal With Levy, Ending 28-Year Partnership With Sodexo
Ohio State has a new sports food vendor for the first time in 28 years. The school today announced it has signed a seven-year deal with Chicago-based Levy Restaurants to operate general food concessions and premium dining at its sports venues, including Ohio Stadium and Schottenstein Center’s Value City Arena. The contract, effective July 1, includes an $8M investment by Levy to improve the food operation, covering upgrades in branding, signage, technology and equipment. Under the contract terms, Levy has agreed to pay OSU a blended commission rate of 43%, an average return of 9% more to the university compared with the school’s deal with Sodexo, its concessionaire since '85. The current agreement generated $11.4M in gross sales for fiscal year '12 with OSU receiving $3.5M in commission. Based on those numbers, school officials estimate the Levy deal will generate about $1M in additional revenue, according to OSU Associate VP/Business Advancement Xen Riggs. Levy, owned by Compass Group, the world’s largest food service provider, won the business by committing to bring more local flavors to the stadium and the arena, Riggs said. Levy’s proposal was heavy on signing partnerships with longtime Ohio-based food operators, and connecting those iconic brands with the rich history of the Buckeye sports programs appealed to school officials. Those partnerships will be announced at a later date, he said. The OSU agreement is Levy's biggest deal in college sports. Elsewhere, Levy runs the food service at Iowa State, Purdue and Missouri. Those deals are tied to a joint venture with Learfield Sports, the multi-media rights holder at those three institutions.