Tag Archives: Deals

Camden Signs With DNC

16 Nov

Camden Yards, Baltimore

New Food Service Provider: Delaware North Companies

Date: Nov. 10

The Baltimore Orioles have signed a 12-year partnership with Delaware North’s Sportservice division to provide food services at Camden Yards including concessions, catering and retail. The deal replaces Aramark, which served the park since it opened in 1992.

Both the team and Delaware North will invest a combined $11 million to redesign and enhance the food and beverage operations, including a new point-of-sale system, new grills and more kiosks for fresh food preparation stations. Corporate Chef Roland Henin will be brought in to work with the organization.

Sportservice will also redesign the team’s retail store with new merchandise displays and an emphasis on year-round activity to boost interest in ballpark tours and visits to the Camden Yards museum. — Dave Brooks



Veritix Gets Nine-Figure Credit Deal

14 Nov


Credit agreement with Rockbridge Growth Equity

Date: Nov. 9

Terms: Ticketing company Veritix has acquired a $100-million credit facility from Rockbridge Growth Equity, an investment firm owned by Veritix and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

The deal gives Veritix access to capital and the ability to offer upfront rebate deals and cash payments to teams, venues and entertainment properties.

“This puts us on a level playing field to compete,” said Veritix President Jeff Kline. “In the past year we’ve gone after a lot of business, and we feel access to this capital will make us more competitive.”

Kline said many clients are still asking for cash payments in advance of future ticketing contracts.

“Those days are not over – our deals financially are very lucrative for venues and teams, but the reality is that when we’re competing head to head, these large cash advances have been common practice and in some cases it’s expected and even required.

“I believe in my company and I believe in my industry. Do I think we’re going to go through $100 million? I hope not. If it takes that much money, I’m not sure we’re in the right business.” — Dave Brooks
Interviewed for this article: Jeff Kline, (216) 466-8055

UNLV Brings Back Libonati

12 Nov

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Booking and Marketing Services: Justice Entertainment Group

Date: Nov. 10

Terms: Two years, undisclosed retainer fee

Notes: Daren Libonati hadn’t even quit his old job when he was approached by his soon-to-be former employer about a representation deal. It was only a few weeks later that Libonati officially announced that his newest client at Justice Entertainment Group  (JEG) would be the University of Las Vegas, where he managed the school’s three athletic facilities for 12 years.

“This allows me to expand on so many things that I enjoy, and in return those things allow me to free myself for other projects, which I will drive back to UNLV,” Libonati said.

JEG is now the exclusive booker and marketer of special events at the three venues and will handle the school’s biggest shows including Supercross, Monster Jam, Disney on Ice, Professional Bull Riders and National Finals Rodeo. JEG will also provide business development and marketing services for the university’s regional ticketing firm UNLVtickets, powered by Paciolan.

Joining Libonati as VP of JEG is Jason Finfrock. Finfrock also spent the last 10 years at UNLV, overseeing marketing of the facilities. Susan Joseph is the chairman of JEG, which also handles artist management, production services and marketing.

Libonati said it was UNLV Athletic Director Jim Livengood who asked Libonati to stay on and help “maintain the integrity of what we created,” for the school’s three facilities: Thomas and Mack Center, Cox Pavilion and Sam Boyd Stadium. Combined, the three facilities have a $33 million budget.

“This isn’t what I set out to do when I joined JEG, but essentially I’m doing many of the same things, just from a different desk.”

Libonati said the two-year deal includes an undisclosed contract retainer, along with a bonus structure for hitting certain goals.

His other goal at JEG is to create a series of boxing events which can be used to market to both UNLV and other venues within the ArenaNetwork, a trade group that helps member facilities get bookings. Libonati plans to work with longtime boxing promoter Art Pellullo of Banner Promotions. Libonati is convinced the sport of boxing is still viable and points to the prominence of toe-to-toe fist fights in Mixed Martial Arts.

“The sport of MMA rose to its pinnacle as soon as the striker rose to prominence among the five disciplines that make up the sport,” Libonati said. “It’s proven to me that boxing is still the ultimate sport. When they stand up and swing for the fences, it becomes fun again.”

Libonati said he has the option for six, eight or 12 fights in 2012 that includes a broadcast deal with cable channel Versus.— Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Daren Libonati, (702) 413-6801

AEG Inks Deals in Glasgow and Paris

29 Sep

Glasgow (Scotland) Arena and Paris Bercy Arena

Contractor: AEG Facilities

Dates: Sept. 21 & Sept. 16

AEG Facilities has signed agreements with two more facilities in Europe: the Scottish National Arena in Glasgow and the Bercy Arena in Paris.

AEG will offer a host of management services for the yet-to-be-completed Glasgow arena, part of the 64-acre Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, including suite sales, sponsorship and programming and environmental consulting.

“The nice thing about our growth in Europe is that this is another addition to our vision of connecting the major capital markets of the world into a working network,” said Bob Newman, who heads up AEG Facilities. “You can see the puzzle that is coming together is a great mix of major markets.”

AEG has also signed to provide consulting services during the tender process for a significant renovation of the Paris Bercy Arena, a 26-year-old arena that hosts both hockey and major touring performances.

“We’re in the initial phases of studying what can be done, and what the options are,” Newman said. “We plan to touch every area of the venue, from the exterior through the roof with a whole new menu of premium offerings. The great thing about the venue is that it’s not land-locked” and they can make major changes to the exterior as well.

AEG Live brought Euroleague Final Four Basketball to the facility in May. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Dan Meis, (310) 963-9633; Bruce Mactaggart, +64 9358 1250; Bob Newman, (213) 763-5425

Mactaggart and Clumpus Buy Vector Arena

27 Sep

Vector Arena, Auckland, New Zealand

Buyer: Bruce Mactaggart and Stuart Clumpus

Date: Sept. 15

Comments: Vector Arena has new owners. Promoters Bruce Mactaggart and Stuart Clumpus have purchased the private-public ownership of the facility for an undisclosed amount of money from previous owner Kevin Jacobsen.

Mactaggart said the purchase was neither a lease nor contract purchase — the pair actually own the 12,000-seat arena through 2047, after which ownership will be returned to the state.

“We believe there is a whole raft of things we can do with this business,” said Mactaggart, who helped design the arena and once served as its general manager, before moving as executive director of the Immersion Edutainment Group, which originally conceived Walking with Dinosaurs – The Live Experience.

“We’d like to use the facility to develop similar shows here,” he said. “New Zealand is the home to a strong special effects industry” and there’s a potential to develop more shows like Walking with Dinosaurs.

The arena also does a robust concert business. In 2009, the facility was the second highest grossing facility for its size category, grossing $19.3 million with 72 shows, including two performances by Simon and Garfunkel for $2.7 million.

Delaware North is the concessionaire for the arena, and Ticketmaster holds the ticketing contract. Brendan Himes, the facility’s former finance director, has been appointed to serve as general manager.

SMG Takes Rockford; AEG Ogden Expands Interest in Perth

5 Aug

MetroCentre in Rockford, Ill.

MetroCentre, Davis Park and the Rockford (Ill.) IceHogs of the American Hockey League

Management Company: SMG

Owner: Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority (RAVE)

Effective Date: Sept. 1, 2010

Terms: Five years. SMG will receive a base management free of $170,000 and will give RAVE an interest free loan of $1 million to be used at their discretion. That loan is to be paid back increments of $100,000 a year and will be forgiven if other income reaches certain thresholds. In addition, SMG will receive an incentive based on reduction of the operating loss, which totaled $1.3 million last year. That portion has not been benchmarked yet, but is along the lines of 10 percent of the decrease between $270,000 and $500,000, so if the loss is cut by $500,000, SMG receives an incentive of $23,000. It would receive 25 percent of the decrease from $500,000 to $1 million. The real incentive is to eliminate the deficit, at which point SMG’s incentive would be 40 percent of the profit.

Comments: Bob Cavalieri, senior VP of business development, noted the scope and type of facilities SMG will manage – everything entertainment related in Rockford. It even includes consulting with a nonprofit that runs the historic, 2,400-seat Coronado Theater downtown, he said.

The 7,000-seat MetroCentre was refurbished to the tune of $23 million three years ago. The plan is to build a permanent proscenium stage in Davis Park, which can seat about 5,000 for an amphitheater event and is used for festivals and other events now. It’s right on the Rock River, he said, a beautiful setting.

The Rockford IceHogs is the AHL affiliate of the Chicago BlackHawks. Cavalieri has already bandied about the phrase, “Come see your future Stanley Cup champions in Rockford,” referring to the BlackHawks 2010 championship. Owned by the city, the IceHogs team is one of the few municipally owned teams in the league. SMG also manages the Reading (Pa.) Royals of the ECHL, Cavalieri noted, and has eight AHL tenant teams in SMG-managed venues.

The Rockford venues have always been publicly operated. In the early days, Doug Logan, who moved on to private management, managed the Rockford MetroCentre. It has a storied past and a bright future, Cavalieri said.

Brian Luther, current general manager at MetroCentre, will be leaving. Cavalieri said SMG is currently recruiting a new manager. Some SMG staff are already in Rockford, though the changeover will take place Sept. 1.  Centerplate is the concessionaire.

The arena hosted 90-95 events in 11 months last year, including 40 AHL games. Cavalieri believes that will be improved to 120-130 events under SMG management.

Cavalieri noted that the environment in Rockford is “what I experienced in Reading (Pa.), a community that decided to all pull in the same direction.” RAVE is made up of businessmen and community leaders dedicated to improving the quality of life for the citizenry, and MetroCentre can be a catalyst of revival.

Interviewed for this story: Bob Cavalieri, (610) 729-7920

Perth (Australia) Arena

Management Company: AEG Ogden

Terms: AEG Ogden has been notified it is the preferred tender. The new arena opens in 2012. There are two contract options, one for 10 years and one for five plus five. Both are “a management fee formula with a fair bit of risk,” said AEG Ogden’s Rod Pilbeam. “We are guaranteeing them a minimum return on operating profits.”

Comments: The contract is still being negotiated. Pilbeam said one bid includes FF&E, one doesn’t. He’s not sure what the final deal will bring. Generally speaking, an arena the size of Perth, 14,000 seats, can return an operating profit of anywhere from $10 million to $12 million Australian, he said.

Perth Arena is an unknown. There has been no major indoor arena in that Western Australia city since the Perth Entertainment Center closed six to eight years ago.

Concerts will be the mainstay for the new venue. It will also house the Hopman Cup, a major tennis tournament. It has no tenant sports team, though the National Basketball League is trying to restart itself, Pilbeam said. The concert season generally runs September to March, which is summer in Australia.

AEG Ogden already operates three theaters in the market. Others bidding on the arena management contract were SMG and Spotless Catering.

Interviewed for this story: Rod Pilbeam, +61 418 74 2342

Deals: Comcast-Spectacor Divisions Go To University: UMass-Lowell, Texas Tech, Clevland State

25 May

Tsongas Center, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Management Company: Global Spectrum

Ticketing: New Era Tickets

Concessions: Aramark

Effective Date: July 1, 2010

Deal: In a five-year deal, Global Spectrum will manage the 6,500-seat arena for UMass Lowell, which bought the $24 million downtown arena from the city in February for $1, plus $800,000 for the adjacent property. Basic parameters, not yet finalized, call for Global Spectrum to be paid a management fee of $96,000 the first year, with incremental increases annually based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In addition, the university will pay Global Spectrum an incentive fee, tentatively 15 percent of the first $250,000 of improvement and 25 percent of anything in excess of $250,000 in improvement. The benchmarks are to be determined. New Era Ticketing will replace Ticketmaster in a gradual handover the rest of this year. In a separate deal, Aramark, which has campus dining, will take over arena concessions from Centerplate/Boston Culinary Group on July 1 as well. Aramark and Global Spectrum will be charged with additionally marketing the UMass Lowell Conference Center on campus, a former Doubletree Hotel, which the university has just purchased.

This arena is Global Spectrum’s second in the UMass system. The firm already manages the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst, noted Frank Russo, senior VP, business development and client relations for Comcast-Spectacor, parent company to Global Spectrum and New Era Tickets.

Tsongas Center has done good business, averaging $2 million-$2.5 million in revenues under SMG management. That number is the moving target in benchmarking and will be impacted by the anticipated loss of an American Hockey League team and by the fact the arena is under the auspices of the university, not the city, for the first full year in fiscal 2011. Russo said it historically does about 90 events, including five or six concerts a year.

Peter Casey, director of athletic business and events and contract administrator for the university, said UMass Lowell is investing another $5 million in the venue. Four-hundred-feet of LED by Daktronics is already in and the RFP for a new video board hits the street next week, he said. They are also looking at premium seating and backstage enhancements.

Russo said Global Spectrum also has some money on the table, though it has not yet been accepted or earmarked.

Tsongas Center is not located on campus and was always intended as a public building, not just for university athletics, but part of Global Spectrum’s challenge here will be to enhance its identity as home of the university’s Division I UMass Lowell River Hawk ice hockey team, Russo said. Casey said the team has averaged 4,500 fans last year, 15th in the division, but there is room for improvement.

“They were ready for a change and they liked our aggressive approach to customer service,” Russo said of the successful bid. The charge is to create a niche for that arena in a crowded market.

Casey added that Global Spectrum, Aramark and the university will all collaborate on marketing both the arena and the conference center after July 1. “We’ll create a one-stop shop.”

The $24 million, 6,500-seat venue originally opened as Tsongas Arena in January 1998, and was named in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Paul E. Tsongas, a Lowell native.

Contact: Frank Russo, (860) 657-0634; Peter Casey, (978) 934-1966


Rendering of a new private club to be built at United Spirit Arena at Texas Tech University, Lubbock.

United Spirit Arena and Jones AT&T Stadium, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

Concessions: Ovations Food Services

Stadium Club and Premium Services: ClubCorp

Effective Date: July 1

Deal: Both are five-year deals with two five-year options. Ovations Food Services will handle concessions and catering at United Spirit Arena, paying 42 percent of the concessions gross up to $800,000; 44.5 percent from $800,000-$1 million; and 46 percent on amounts greater than $1 million. On alcohol sales at concerts, Ovations pays 10 percent of amounts up to $100,000 and 44.5 percent over $100,000 for concessions; and 10 percent of sales up to $125,000, 15 percent over that amount, on catering. At the stadium, Ovations will pay 43 percent of the gross food and drink sales up to $800,000, 44.5 percent, $800,000-$1 million, and 46 percent over $1 million.

ClubCorp will handle catering on game days at the stadium only and will operate a private club restaurant there year round. The firm will pay Texas Tech 20 percent on catering on game days and an additional five percent of the club membership revenues up to $1 million. Bobby Gleason, deputy athletics director, said membership fees have not yet been finalized, but the general parameters are something like $25 a month on the low end to $80-$90 a month for the high end perks.

The private club concept is not new to the collegiate world, but it is still rare. Gleason said ClubCorp has deals with six other universities to operate a club like this. “It provides a great opportunity for faculty and staff to have a good place to entertain guests,” he said. The ClubCorp component of this deal is more about enhanced amenities than revenue, he added.

Ovations Food Services will take over from Sodexo, which has had the concessions contract at Texas Tech since the arena opened in 1999. Gleason said the university’s share of revenues from food and drink at the two venues, without a private club, were in the $1.2 million range.

Russ Bookbinder, vice chancellor, said the decision to go with a private club was a matter of space utilization versus revenue streams. Ovations brings its “everything’s fresh” concept to concessions at the arena and the stadium, offering more cooking in the stands and thus requiring less kitchen space for preparation, he noted. That frees up kitchen space for ClubCorp at the stadium.

At United Spirit Arena, Ovations will be converting some food court space to a private area for premium seat holders, Bookbinder said. They will also be introducing some new, higher end concessions items. Prices will be comparable to those in other Big 12 schools, he added.

Kent Meredith, arena GM, noted that Texas Tech will be the largest collegiate account for Ovations. Ken Young, Ovations president, concurred and added there is still a contract out which will impact sales volumes – the merchandise contract. Bookbinder said that contract will be let next week.

Contacts: Bobby Gleason, (806) 742-3346; Russ Bookbinder, (806) 742-0012; Kent Meredith, (806) 742-7362; Ken Young, (813) 948-6900 X 104


Cleveland State University Wolstein Center

Management: Global Spectrum

Food & Drink: Ovations Food Services

Ticketing: New Era Tickets

Effective Date: July 1, 2010

Deal: Global Spectrum will receive a management fee of $100,000 the first year, adjusted annually by the CPI, for managing the 13,000-seat Bert T. and Iris S. Wolstein Center. An incentive based on gross ticket sales is to be negotiated for the five-year deal. Ovations has a separate deal with the university and will take over at the same time Global Spectrum does, replacing Savor, a division of SMG, the former management firm. New Era replaces Ticketmaster. Ovations will make an investment in equipment.

This deal reels in contracts for three of the four Comcast Spectacor subsidiaries handling aspects of venue services. An outside firm, Nelligan, was contracted to handle commercial rights.

Close to 20 of Global Spectrum’s accounts are package deals like this, said Frank Russo, senior VP of business development for Comcast Spectacor. Usually, Global Spectrum and Ovations bid a deal and then Global Spectrum requests permission to bid for ticketing and commercial rights, he said.

One of the features of Wolstein Center that makes it unique as a college arena is the 30,000-square-foot Conference Center that is attached. Russo said it is ideal as a VIP room, but will also be marketed for events and meetings. “They want a major drive to enhance bookings as a conference center,” he said.

The main initiative, though, will be to increase attendance at men’s basketball games. The average now is about 2,000 per game and the 12,000-seat venue is curtained off to 8,000 seats.

Russo said Wolstein Center is hosting 100-120 events annually. It is just blocks from Quicken Loan Arena, home to the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association. Still, it can be a major concert facility because of the number of dates blocked out for NBA at Quicken Loans, he added.

Global Spectrum will endeavor to create a new niche for Wolstein Center, he said. Along with New Era, Global Spectrum will be initiating a major campaign to increase season ticket sales for basketball games, he said.

“We are pleased to bring Ovations’ proprietary Everything’s Fresh™ approach to Cleveland State University,” said Ken Young, Ovations Food Services President.  Ovations Food Services plans to feature freshly grilled half pound 100-percent Black Angus burgers and hot dogs served up fresh with fan condiment choices. Other proprietary brands that Ovations will bring to the University include Hot Dog Nation, Scoops, City BBQ, Overture Café, and Boomer’s Bistro. — Linda Deckard

Contacts: Frank Russo, (860) 657-0634; Ken Young, (813) 948-6900 X 104