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Volume 21 No. 2


Don Muret
Centerplate has launched new technology at the University of South Carolina that company officials say is the first entirely mobile point-of-sale system at a sports facility.

The food and retail vendor invested about $250,000 to equip concession stands with 166 computer tablets at Williams-Brice Stadium, the SEC school’s 80,250-seat stadium. The tablets, purchased through Sprint, have credit card readers attached and are mounted on top of cash registers.

Using a cloud-based point-of-sale application branded as Premiyum! and developed by Apptico Technology Group, a California software firm, Centerplate workers can more efficiently process transactions, whether via cash, credit card or debit card.

The University of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium is using the new system that incorporates computer tablets that have credit card readers attached.
In addition to the tablets, Centerplate’s investment covered Wi-Fi upgrades at the 78-year-old stadium to accommodate the mobile technology, said Greg Lesperance, the vendor’s senior vice president, chief accounting officer and chief information officer. The benefits, according to Lesperance, include greater speed of service, the system’s flexibility to connect with other wireless payment systems for the school and the development of fan loyalty programs.

Before this season, there was no broad point-of-sale system at the stadium. Centerplate used cash drawers and wireless credit card machines that struggled with connectivity due to the increase in smartphone use by Gamecocks fans attending the games, said Michael Jennings, Centerplate’s general manager and regional vice president in Columbia, S.C. As a result, there were often long lines at concession stands and frequent complaints, Jennings said.

The tablets, coupled with the Wi-Fi upgrades, resolved the customer-service issue, and food and drink per caps have gone up by almost 50 cents a game at Williams-Brice with two home games remaining. Quicker transaction times have led to credit card sales more than doubling to $45,000 a game compared with the older system, Jennings said.

The tablets allow Centerplate to provide a less expensive solution compared with purchasing a traditional point-of-sale system at three to four times the cost of Apptico’s software, Lesperance said.

“To be brutally honest, without insulting our point-of-sale vendors, we didn’t see them responding quickly enough to this opportunity,” Lesperance said. “We have been begging them to look at something like this for the past five years.”

The flexibility of the mobile devices enables Centerplate to move the tablets to Colonial Life Arena, the school’s basketball facility, as well as to South Carolina’s baseball and softball venues. The concessionaire will make those moves for the winter and spring sports seasons, Jennings said.

In the major leagues, Centerplate is testing the tablets for about 3,000 club seats at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, home of the NFL Broncos. The plan is to expand the system to Centerplate’s two dozen college and pro accounts, Lesperance said.

> LAYOFFS: HNTB has laid off an undisclosed number of sports architects, confirmed Tim Cahill, a principal in the firm’s Kansas City office.

One sports designer affected is Marty Haynes, director of design for HNTB, industry sources said. Haynes’ recent projects included working on an athletics master plan at Duke University covering proposed upgrades to Cameron Indoor Stadium and Wallace Wade Stadium.

Cahill would not provide details on who was let go or the number of layoffs.

Haynes, reached through a third party, did not want to talk about his departure.

HNTB is the architect for the San Francisco 49ers’ $1.2 billion stadium under construction in Santa Clara, Calif. The firm’s layoffs do not affect the project, said team spokeswoman Carey Marin. The facility is ahead of schedule and set to open in August 2014.

The same is true in Orlando, where HNTB is in the early stages of designing a $175 million renovation of Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, said Allen Johnson, executive director of Orlando Venues.

At Duke, where HNTB spent about four years completing a two-phase master plan, the firm will be “strongly considered” for the jobs to design improvements for the school’s arena and stadium, said Mike Cragg, senior associate director of athletics for the Duke Basketball Legacy Fund.

> CONNECT THE DOTS: The Los Angeles Dodgers have hired John Stranix as project manager for proposed renovations to Dodger Stadium. Stranix, an owner’s representative, has ties to Dodgers President Stan Kasten dating to the development of Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., which opened in 2008. Stranix managed the project for Kasten, who at the time was president of the Nationals.

In Los Angeles, Stranix will work directly with ballpark developer Janet Marie Smith, whom Kasten hired earlier this year to plan upgrades for the 50-year-old ballpark. The Dodgers have yet to announce specific plans for long-term stadium improvements.

Before working on Nationals Park, Stranix served as owner’s representative for Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia; and Verizon Center in Washington, home of the Capitals and Wizards.

In Atlanta, Kasten and Smith worked together developing the post-Olympics retrofit of Turner Field and Philips Arena.

> SMELLS LIKE VICTORY: Kroenke Sports & Entertainment recently named Steve Govett vice president of new business development.

Company officials in Denver created the new position to manage off-the-field opportunities for KSE’s properties, which include the Avalanche, Nuggets, Rapids and Mammoth, as well as the Pepsi Center, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and regional sports network Altitude.

Govett has worked for KSE for 10 years as president and general manager of the Mammoth, the National Lacrosse League team that plays its home games at Pepsi Center. He will continue his role with the Mammoth, reporting to Jim Martin, Kroenke Sports’ CEO.

“Essentially, the intent was to create a clearinghouse at KSE for new business opportunities,” Govett said. “Kroenke has a presence in a number of leagues and real estate holdings, and my job is to pull it all together, leveraging technology, sponsorships, properties and events.”

One project in which Govett will be principally involved is Victory Crossing, a public-private partnership calling for the commercial development of 250 acres of land next to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the 20,000-seat MLS stadium in Commerce City, a Denver suburb.

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are targeting major upgrades for 14-year-old Raymond James Stadium over the next two years, with a focus on food and retail.

The Buccaneers’ plans include a two-story, 13,000-square-foot team store that would be one of the biggest in the NFL outside of Cowboys Stadium’s 18,000-square-foot Pro Shop. The proposed improvements would bolster the case for the Super Bowl to return to Tampa for the first time since 2009.

The plans are outlined in a request-for-proposal that the NFL team issued in July. The RFP sought candidates to run the stadium’s food service and merchandise and the retail side of

SportsBusiness Journal obtained a copy of the RFP and an addendum with food and retail sales numbers from 2009 to 2011, data that provide a rare glimpse into detailed sales numbers for a team in the NFL, where only the Green Bay Packers are publicly owned.

The proposal does not specify project costs and financing, but does ask vendors to provide dollar figures for grants to help fund stadium renovations. It says the Bucs prefer to consolidate food, merchandise and online retail with one firm. Levy Restaurants and Centerplate operate food service and retail, respectively, at Raymond James Stadium, and Fanatics runs the team’s online retail operation. Five-year contracts with options for all three deals become available in March 2013.

The Bucs reportedly have had issues with Levy. Last year, the Chicago firm ran out of food at halftime of a preseason game, leading to the team’s decision to cut concession prices in half for the regular-season home opener. For the 2011 home opener against the Lions, a game where 15,000 seats were empty, Levy continued to have problems, running out of ice as fans waited in line at concession stands for up to one hour to buy food and drink, according to local reports.

The Buccaneers refused to comment on the proposal. As of last week, the team had not announced any deals with vendors, and officials with three concessionaires competing for the business said they had not heard from the club regarding a winner.

Eric Hart, president and CEO of the Tampa Sports Authority, the Bucs’ landlord, said that the team had not informed him of any decisions but that he expects an announcement by year’s end. To this point, authority officials do not know many details about the Bucs’ plans, he said.

“We have had no formal meetings with the Bucs,” Hart said. “They haven’t released anything.”

As the stadium’s owner, the authority has an obligation through its agreement with the Bucs to keep the building on par with NFL stadiums of similar vintage. It has about $20 million in public funds available for upkeep, Hart said, a number covering a new $9 million scoreboard, among other items. Hillsborough County officials must approve those funds in future negotiations with the Buccaneers over stadium improvements.

The Tampa market was a finalist for the 2015 Super Bowl but lost out to Phoenix after playing host to the event in 2001 and 2009. Landing a third Super Bowl as well as reversing the Bucs’ drops in attendance since 2008 are primary drivers for stadium upgrades, sources said.

An analysis of in-stadium sales over the past three years shows the Buccaneers have plenty of room to grow their business at Raymond James. The historical numbers are net sales after taxes and do not reflect revenue splits with vendors, percentages the Bucs have not disclosed.

The Bucs' food and drink per caps of $17.20 and $17.21 the past two years rank at the bottom of the NFL compared with leaguewide averages. Depending on the NFL market, the range is $17 on the low end to $30 on the high end, said Chris Bigelow, a consultant who major league teams use to manage the process for selecting food vendors.
The Bucs are managing the process in-house.

On the retail side, the team’s data show the Bucs and their vendors have also underperformed. Last year, the team’s stadium merchandise per cap was $2.07 after two seasons in which the average was below $2. The league average is $3 to $5, Bigelow said.

Part of the reason for the Bucs’ retail shortfall is Raymond James Stadium, which opened in 1998, is one of the few NFL facilities without a permanent team store. The Bucs’ planned retail destination would be open on game days, and during the week could play host to events such as live radio broadcasts, the proposal said.

The Bucs’ proposal also lists the redesign of 10 fixed retail locations at the stadium and build-out of retail spaces in both clubs.

The Buccaneers have seen empty seats, as at the 2011 season opener vs. the Lions.
Total net merchandise sales on have averaged about $565,000 over the past three seasons. The leaguewide average runs between $1 million and $10 million annually, with the wide gap reflecting a team’s success and its heritage, said one NFL online vendor. Legacy teams with long, successful histories and national fan bases, for example the Steelers, Giants and Packers, rise to the top end of the spectrum. Clubs such as the Chiefs, Bills and Jaguars — along with the Bucs — fall to the bottom tier.

To upgrade food service, the Bucs are planning a redesign and rebranding of all general and premium concession stands covering all-inclusive food, beer, wine and soda at NFL games, and remodeling of the 195 suites with full-size refrigerators, new cabinets, hot plates and beverage tubs. The makeover of the “lower galley” restaurants in the east and west clubs and construction of a sports bar are also in the team’s plans.

There is room to significantly expand both sideline clubs as the Bucs begin the transition to marketing an all-inclusive ticket package for 9,000 club seats, sources said. The Bucs have been talking about extending the floor plans over the escalators to the glass on the exterior walls. Doing so would widen those hospitality spaces by roughly 50 to 75 feet and provide food and retail vendors with more points of sale.

Outside the stadium, the Bucs are targeting a “tailgate village” near the north stadium quadrant, as described in the proposal. There were no details in the proposal for what it could include but a roller coaster and a flume ride have been discussed as attractions, sources said.

Raymond James Stadium Food & Beverage sales

Event Attendance
(# of events)
Total food/bev
Buccaneers 446,172 (9) 49,575 $16.31 $7,271,374
USF Bulls 248,059 (6) 41,343 $10.51 $2,607,972
Major events (25,000+) 217,388 (4) 54,347 $11.87 $2,580,379
Small events (<25,000) 41,647 (10) 4,165 $4.90 $203,982
Total 953,266 (29) 32,871 $13.28 $12,663,707
Event Attendance
(# of events)
Total food/bev
Buccaneers 415,968 (10) 41,597 $17.21 $7,157,511
USF Bulls 209,688 (7) 29,955 $9.61 $2,014,822
Major events (25,000+) 128,897 (3) 42,966 $9.41 $1,212,852
Small events (<25,000) 63,840 (10) 6,384 $4.84 $309,251
Total 818,393 (30) 27,280 $13.07 $10,694,436
Event Attendance
(# of events)
Total food/bev
Buccaneers 437,043 (9) 48,560 $17.20 $7,518,264
USF Bulls 227,044 (7) 32,435 $9.86 $2,239,134
Major events (25,000+) 190,387 (4) 47,597 $13.78 $2,623,358
Small events (<25,000) 47,519 (11) 4,320 $9.56 $454,130
Total 901,993 (31) 29,097 $14.23 $12,834,886

Buccaneers retail merchandise sales at …

  Raymond James Stadium
2009 $463,344 $486,257
2010 $650,125 $613,263
2011 $904,829 $594,612

Source: Addendum to Buccaneers’ RFP