Tag Archives: University Venues

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

New Buildings: Lincoln Voters Approve New Arena Project.

21 May

Rendering of the new Haymarket Arena, Lincoln, Neb.

After a slow 12-month period, a new major collegiate arena has been announced, the first of its kind for this year.

On May 6, voters overwhelmingly approved a $25-million bond measure to help finance a $344-million arena in downtown Lincoln, Neb. The University of Nebraska men’s and women’s basketball teams will be the primary tenants for the 16,000-seat arena, paying annual rents of $750,000 plus expenses, while sharing in a number of ancillary revenues to give the Cornhuskers a modern arena.

The facility will essentially replace the SMG-managed Pershing Center, said GM Tom Lorenz, who was instrumental in working to pass the referendum.

“We’re still not sure what we’re going to do with the old facility,” he said. “The city is looking at several proposals, and we have contracts through early 2014, which is good because we’re not expecting the new arena to be completed until late 2013.”

SMG must bid for the management contract for the new facility, which could break ground as early as this summer, but more likely won’t start until mid-2011. The architect for the facility is national firm DLR, which designed the Qwest Center in Omaha.

“The plan is to host more concerts at the facility and we’re confident we’ll be able to route shows, based on the success of the Qwest Center, which is about 60 miles from here,” he said. “We’re expecting to get concerts that come through on their second leg of a tour, or perhaps they’ll play here first and hit Omaha when they come back through.”

On Tuesday, voter’s approved an initiative to divert 70 percent of a local sales tax to raise $25 million in bonds for the project. Most of the $344 million project will be paid by a new two percent tax on restaurants and four percent tax on hotels and rental cars near the Haymarket Center, where the facility is to be built.

“It’s actually quite a developed area already, surrounded by bars and restaurants,” said Lorenz. Once a bustling warehouse district, site for the trading of commodities like wheat and hay, the downtown area has been transformed in recent years into a highly trafficked retail district known as the Haymarket Center.

The new arena will have 32 suites, a first for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and the university and the city are currently finalizing a memorandum of understanding to split money from the suites, naming rights, concessions and merchandise. They’ll also be able to tap into some sales tax monies to help pay the rent. The university will be responsible for picking up expenses resulting from game day operations. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Tom Lorenz, (402) 441-8744