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Volume 21 No. 1


Don Muret
The Denver Broncos are building two concourse bars at midfield tied to the team’s $32 million investment in stadium upgrades.

The bar retrofits alone cost $3 million, including $500,000 coming from Centerplate, the Broncos’ food and retail provider, said Andy Gorchov, general manager of Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Both open-air bars are under construction on the facility’s east and west sides. They officially open for business Sept. 23, the Broncos’ second regular-season home game, a Monday night meeting with Oakland.

The two bars have no views to the field. They take up open space that draws heavy foot traffic on game days but has been underused — filled mostly with portable carts since the stadium opened in 2001, Gorchov said.

The project falls in line with the Broncos’ intention to provide fans with more casual spaces to sit down and have a drink, as well as generating more revenue for the team, he said.

There are drink rails and tables for fans to hang out and watch the early NFL games on video walls containing 55-inch televisions.

Other NFL teams have completed similar

This underused space on the Broncos’ east side will become a casual bar area.
retrofits at their stadiums. A few years ago, the Carolina Panthers built a small Bud Light-branded bar on the main concourse at Bank of America Stadium.

In Denver, the stadium’s design creates some differences separating the bars. The 50-Yard Bar East, a larger space, stretches roughly between the 40-yard lines. The Broncos created 2,300 square feet of additional concourse space, in part by moving a wall back 15 feet and reducing the size of a premium entry lobby on the other side of the wall, Gorchov said.

In addition, the team relocated an LED ribbon board outside the east-side bar to display in-game statistics and out-of-town scores. It had been attached to the seating bowl before the Broncos upgraded their entire video screen system this season, he said.

The east-side bar is themed for Colorado craft beers and will serve local brews such as New Belgium and Blue Moon seasonals, Colorado Native Lager and Dale’s Pale Ale.

The 50-Yard Bar West runs between the 45-yard lines and carries more of a sports bar feel. Its beer selection will include Leinenkugel’s seasonals in addition to New Belgium’s Fat Tire and Blue Moon.

Centerplate will operate a new walk-in retail store next to the west-side bar. The east-side bar does not have a merchandise component.

HNTB, the stadium’s architect, designed the two bars, which could be branded for sponsors in the future, Gorchov said.

> HALF AND HALF: At least seven NFL franchises are now running 50-50 raffles on game days to benefit their nonprofit foundations, according to Pointstreak 5050 and Bump 50:50, two technology vendors that have deals with major league clubs.

The Arizona Cardinals, a Pointstreak client, were the first NFL team to run a charitable raffle. The Cardinals did so for the last three games of the 2012 season after the league softened its stance on the issue, allowing teams to go forward to boost their nonprofit efforts.

This year, in addition to the Cardinals, Pointstreak has signed the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins, said Kevin Lovitt, the firm’s president.

In Jacksonville, the Jaguars Foundation runs the raffle and generated about $20,000 during the team’s regular-season home opener against the Chiefs, said Peter Racine, the group’s president. Half the total proceeds went to the winning ticket buyer and the remaining half was given to the J.T. Townsend Foundation, named for the local man who was paralyzed from the neck down in a 2004 high school football game. Townsend died June 5 but not before he graduated from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Racine said.

Breast cancer charities, veterans groups and the Second Harvest Food Bank are among the beneficiaries for raffles at future Jaguars games, he said. Elsewhere in the NFL, the Bills’ raffle, benefiting the local United Way chapter, produced about $23,000, Lovitt said.

Bump 50:50’s NFL clients are the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins, confirmed Dan Tanenbaum, the company’s president.

In Canada, where 50-50 raffles are ingrained in the country’s sports culture and teams post winners’ photographs on their websites, the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers sold $133,000 in raffle tickets during their Sept. 8 home game against Saskatchewan. Game attendance was announced at 33,500, about half the size of a typical NFL crowd.

“The NFL will do really well once it gets into the fans’ mindset what the teams are doing with these raffles,” Lovitt said.

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

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is moving toward outsourcing food and retail operations at the historic facility, which for general concessions would be the first time in the track’s 104-year history.

Photo by: IMS PHOTO
The track may still keep food concessions in-house and officials plan to make a final decision over the next month after receiving proposals this week from big league concessionaires, said Doug Boles, the speedway’s president.
The speedway issued a proposal in mid-August for food service. Responses are due today.

“We had a group of potential vendors come in during the Indy 500 so they could understand

Retail sales include a museum store (top), while the food account services multiple stands across the sprawling speedway.
the enormity of the operation,” Boles said. “It’s such a big place — for those who haven’t been here, it takes a unique approach. It’s not like a football game.”

The choice for the merchandise contract is down to Legends Hospitality and hometown firm MainGate, after the track issued a separate retail proposal, sources familiar with the process said. Both vendors run retail at NFL stadiums.

The speedway’s merchandise business is substantial, generating in the high seven figures in annual revenue, sources said. That number includes sales at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

The retail deal also covers the IndyCar Series, owned by Hulman & Co., the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Lids, a retailer best known for its sports cap stores in malls and airports, now handles retail for those events nationally.

The speedway’s food service produces about $3.5 million a year from about a dozen events booked at the track, including the Indy 500, sources said.

Speedway officials are exploring all options for boosting those numbers after the organization went through a restructuring process starting with the naming of Mark Miles as CEO of Hulman & Co. in December.

In July, Boles, the track’s former chief operating officer, was promoted to president. Both men are responsible for turning business around at the facility, which has struggled with attendance issues tied to the Red Bull Indianapolis GP race and NASCAR’s Brickyard 400.

As part of those efforts, the track has more than $90 million to invest for renovations after receiving a $100 million loan from the state of Indiana, Boles said. A big focus is installing tech upgrades with point-of-sales systems for food and retail.

The speedway’s premium dining operation also could be taken over by an outside firm, Boles said. Each of the track’s 125 suites, party rooms and corporate hospitality tents is served by one of three local caterers, depending on customer preference.

All of those pieces of the food operation are part of the proposal, which includes a request for capital investment on the part of the concessionaire to help pay for track improvements, he said.