(from Sports Business Journal, April 8, 2013) There is tough competition right now in the concession world. The Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium is looking for a new concession company. As big league concessionaires prepare responses to the proposal, consider that the Big Four in sports food all have a presence in the market. Delaware North Sportservice runs food service at Target Field and general concessions at Target Center. Centerplate has general concessions at Metrodome and Aramark has premium dining. At Xcel Energy Center, Levy Restaurants manages all aspects of food service. Aramark operates concessions and premium dining at TCF Bank Stadium, home to the University of Minnesota. Looking closer at the RFP, the proposal requests that the vendors should submit terms for three financial arrangements, all of which would share a percentage of gross sales with the Vikings. Two options are tied to 10 year terms with one requiring a $3.5 million investment paid to the authority to buy a point-of-sale system and other equipment. The third option is a five-year deal with no investment, according to the document. Also in the RFP, each prospective bidder may submit alternative proposals with specified capital investments.
The deadline for proposals is April 23, the authority and the team want to have a signed contract with a vendor in operation by June 15, according to the proposal. Outside of the Big Four, Legends Hospitality Management, which runs food and retail at Cowboys Stadium, and Ovations Food Services, the food provider at EverBank Field, also have NFL experience. Chris Bigelow, food consultant, states that usually it takes about six months with the total process until a company is under contract. However, when it is a fast turnaround like this one, it is all about who will pay the highest commissions. Bigelow says that commissions are always important but so is the investment, track record at comparable venues, creative design ideas, locally relevant menus and the on-site management team.