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Volume 20 No. 41

Facilities

Don Muret
Ike Richman, among the most respected public relations officials in sports and entertainment, has decided to start his own shop in Philadelphia.

Richman, Comcast Spectacor’s vice president of public relations, has formed Ike Richman Communications, which officially launches Oct. 3. He won’t stray far from his roots. Richman’s first client is his employer for the past 28 years.

“We’re looking forward to working with Ike as an outside adviser in the years ahead,” said Dave Scott, Comcast Spectacor’s president and CEO.

Richman expects to sign more PR consulting deals with teams and facilities after gaining vast experience working for the group that owns the Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center, plus affiliate Spectra, which runs arenas, stadiums and food service across the country.

“I look at something that Ed Snider taught us, to take what you do well and grow it,” Richman said, referring to the late Flyers owner and the entrepreneurial spirit he brought to Comcast Spectacor.

“I bring expertise to teams, owners and venues, and it’s not just limited to sports,” said Richman, always quick to deliver a pun tied to song lyrics from his favorite bands, including Phish and Van Halen. “A lot of teams bring concerts to their buildings now and I’ll be helping on that end as well.”

It’s been an impressive run for Richman, 51, whose bloodlines run deep in Philly sports lore. He was named for his grandfather, Ike Richman, who founded the Philadelphia 76ers after buying the old Syracuse Nationals and relocating the NBA team to Philly in 1963.

Ike Richman makes a point at HBO’s premiere of “Broad Street Bullies” with (from left) the Flyers’ Ed Snider and HBO’s Ross Greenburg and Ray Stallone in 2010.
Photo by: COMCAST SPECTACOR
The junior Richman’s first day of work at Spectacor (the firm’s old name) came Jan. 26, 1989, which happened to be his 23rd birthday. He started as a producer for SportsRadio WIP in town, and when the company sold the station in 1992, he moved to the Spectrum, the old home of the Flyers and Sixers.

Over time, Richman’s role expanded outside of Philly as Snider grew his empire to include facility management, food service, ticketing and marketing at arenas and stadiums. In those instances, Richman helped Spectra staff and local clients on site promote their operations.

“When we started working with other buildings … Ike became a mentor to others,” said Peter Luukko, the Florida Panthers’ executive chairman and Comcast Spectacor’s former president and chief operating officer. “I think this is a great move for him.”

Frank Brown, NHL group vice president of communications, said, “Although we’ve worked together a number of times, I thought Ike really showed his professional stripes when Ed Snider passed away. While there were so many details to track in preparing the celebration of Ed’s life, and so many people to comfort, I thought Ike set aside his own grief and handled his duties impeccably.”

Richman’s last day with Comcast Spectacor is Sept. 28.

> WAKE-UP CALL: Greensboro Coliseum officials think Wake Forest’s football stadium, BB&T Field, has proved itself as a concert venue after Guns N’ Roses grossed $3 million in ticket sales from a crowd of 35,000. The Aug. 11 concert was the stadium’s first in 27 years.

In 2013, the Greensboro group signed a five-year deal with the school to book special events at BB&T Field and Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum, Wake Forest’s basketball arena. Greensboro and Winston-Salem sit 30 miles apart in North Carolina.

Several concerts have played Lawrence Joel since the deal took effect, but it took a few years to secure a stadium concert at Wake Forest. It was Guns N’ Roses’ only college venue among nine U.S. tour dates.

Spectra runs the food at Greensboro Coliseum and Wake Forest’s sports venues. Guns N’ Roses generated a food per cap of $19.50, driven largely by beer sales. Those numbers match country acts Jason Aldean and Eric Church at the Greensboro arena, said Scott Johnson, the coliseum’s deputy director.

“Our goal is to solidify the region as an independent market apart from Charlotte and Raleigh,” said Matt Brown, Greensboro Coliseum’s managing director. The two parties are negotiating a five-year extension beyond the agreement, which expires next September.

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

Levy will take over food service next season at Tropicana Field, said Rick Nafe, the Tampa Bay Rays’ vice president of operations and facilities.

The Chicago-based company replaces Centerplate, which has run the stadium’s general concessions and premium dining since the Rays’ first season in 1998. Centerplate’s agreement expires Dec. 31, and Levy has posted a job on its website to fill the role of Tropicana Field’s executive chef.

Nafe confirmed that the decision to sign a new vendor was made before a Sports Illustrated story ran in early August ranking Tropicana Field as the worst MLB park in terms of food safety. The Rays had discussions with most big league food providers before selecting Levy in mid-July, sources familiar with the negotiations said.

“The [SI report] may have been the rotten cherry on top,” Nafe said.

Bill Walsh, the Rays’ vice president of strategy and development, was principally involved in the Levy deal, but he was unavailable for comment. In an email last week, Walsh said the Rays were short-staffed and trying to get the stadium ready for baseball again after Hurricane Irma struck Florida.

Sources said Levy will be paid a management fee to run food at the stadium, which also plays host to college football’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

The Rays are Levy’s eighth MLB account. The concessionaire also has deals with the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, White Sox, Marlins, Nationals, Pirates and Cubs.