Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 20 No. 42
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Forty Under 40

Bob Pascal is doing his part to steer sports concessions away from the traditional hot dog and beer stand.

For the past 18 months, Centerplate has conducted 10,000 to 15,000 fan surveys at arenas and stadiums, as well as online, to find out their preferences for food and drink at a game. Pascal, Centerplate’s chief marketing officer, has been at the forefront of the food provider’s research and plan of action to answer fans’ needs and ultimately generate more revenue for teams and facilities.

“We touch 80 million sports fans multiple times throughout the game, and our role is to determine how much fun you can have, beyond the quality of offerings and speed of service,” Pascal said.

The Pen at Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, is one example of Pascal’s handiwork.

Using local chefs’ recipes for gourmet burgers, pizza and Mexican sandwiches, Pascal took the lead to redevelop the old Pike’s Fish Market theme into a new, hip hangout for singles, with drink rails 10 feet above the home team bullpen. The Pen opened last season and sales jumped dramatically in the center-field space, resulting in per caps 80 percent above the average spend in 2010.

It quickly became a top destination in the park among the twentysomething crowd, said Kevin Mather, the Mariners’ executive vice president of finance and ballpark operations. Last summer, Seattle Weekly named The Pen one of the city’s best restaurants.

“Bob comes in, hires a chef and a designer, strips it and turns it into a sports bar,” Mather said. “Instead of drawing 300 people a night, we’re getting 1,000 and they are spending money out there. It’s almost like a frat house, a very popular spot on Fridays and Saturdays.”

The renovation was tied to Centerplate stepping up its level of service after the Mariners sat down with the firm’s executive team a few years ago to discuss how the park’s food service could be improved.

To Pascal’s credit, “he didn’t just show up, do a fly-by and leave town” without returning to Seattle to follow up on new ideas he proposed for upgrading the food operation, Mather said.

Centerplate “implemented what they said they were going to do,” he said. “We are on the right track now, and Bob gets credit for it.”

Age: 39
Title: Chief marketing officer
COMPANY: Centerplate
Education: B.A., Davidson College; MBA, Stern School of Business, New York University
Family: Wife, Sara Lyn; daughters Gigi (7) and Maisie (3)
Career: Spent 10 years in marketing positions in the consumer packaged goods and financial services industries; joined Centerplate in 2004
First job: Mowing lawns as a boy
Last vacation: Disney World
what's on your ipod? Rock, hip-hop, country, opera … you name it, I love music.
guilty pleasure: Ebay
best stress release: Coaching 7-year-old girls’ soccer
pet peeve: Rudeness
fantasy job: Athletic director, Davidson College
what keeps you awake at night? How best to connect with fans
business advice: Know your customer.