Aside from huge bankrolls, new stadiums, and diva players, the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees now have another thing in common. They have teamed up to form Legends Hospitality Management LLC;, a Newark, NJ-based food service provider designed to rival more traditional concession outsourcing firms like Sodexo and Aramark. Each team will own about one third of Legends, with Goldman Sachs picking up the remainder.
Despite having little or no experience in this area, the initial focus of the company will be on operating catering, concessions, retail merchandising, and other facility management enterprises for major sports and entertainment facilities. Legends will handle services at the new, state-of-the-art Yankees and Cowboys stadiums (set to open in 2009) on a multi-year basis. The intention is to expand beyond these anchor teams to provide services to professional and college sports teams and other event facilities worldwide.
In a pre-recorded message played during a recent press conference, George Steinbrenner (owner of the New York Yankees) and Jerry Jones (owner of the Dallas Cowboys) chat about the goals of the new venture:
“What this is about,” Jones said.
“Is for the fans,” said Steinbrenner.
“That’s right,” Jones said.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times writes:
The teams vowed to rewrite the script for serving food to fans in their and other facilities, for those in the regular seats and the better-heeled ones in the luxury suites.
“It’s the nonsuite holders where we hope to see the biggest jump in satisfaction,” said Mike Rawlings, the Legends chairman, and a former Pizza Hut president, who cited research saying only 31% of fans are satisfied with ballpark customer service.
He promised faster service, shorter lines and hot food that will stay hot.
He did not say what a beer would cost the average fan but stressed how sports fans, even in a bad economy, are more concerned with quality than price.
“Franchise owners want happy fans,” Rawlings said.
“They want them at game day.”
In a recent press release, Hal Steinbrenner, co-chairman of the New York Yankees explained, “The old model of stadium concessions is broken. Fans want and deserve a better experience for their sports entertainment dollar. Working with Legends to leverage the talent and experience resident in the Yankees’ and Cowboys’ organizations will enable us to set a higher bar for sports franchises while delivering greater value to fans.”
Said Rawlings, “Our mission at Legends is simple. We want to become the authority on fan experience so that we can provide team and stadium owners, athletic directors, and venue operators with innovative ways to build business value for their sports franchises off the playing field. While we’ll leverage the experience of our leadership team and the Yankees and Cowboys organizations, we also fully intend to broaden and deepen our capabilities in the coming years through a combination of acquisitions, strategic partnerships, and continued internal growth.”