Notre Dame partners with Centerplate for concession services

by Dennis Brown

Notre Dame Concessions

Food and beverage concessions at Notre Dame athletics events will be substantially enhanced beginning next fall through the University’s new partnership with Centerplate, one of the world’s leading hospitality companies for sports, entertainment and convention venues.

Notre Dame has entered into a long-term contract with Centerplate to direct the concession services at Notre Dame Stadium, Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, the soon-to-open Compton Family Center ice arena, Warren Golf Course, all Olympic sports stadia and Irish Green, the public hospitality area on the south side of campus.

As part of the contract, the University has ensured that non-profit groups in the area will be able to continue to raise funds by working in campus concession stands. The University is offering positions with comparable wages to eight food services employees whose jobs will be eliminated by the change.

“Independent research has shown us that, while our fans genuinely enjoy the game-day experience at Notre Dame, we had room for improvement with our concessions,” said John Affleck-Graves, the University’s executive vice president.

“We have one of the finest campus food service operations in all of higher education, but it is designed to provide high quality meals to our student body, and it receives outstanding reviews for doing so. For the very different kind of fare found in concession stands at sporting events, we thought it best to have our own food services personnel concentrate on what they do so well, and turn to the experts at Centerplate to improve the fan experience through high-quality foods and beverages.

“We were very impressed by the Centerplate team. They have a track-record of success in collegiate and professional venues and presented a thoughtful plan to provide an unparalleled hospitality experience for our fans.”

Centerplate will introduce new menu concepts – such as prime rib and grilled shrimp sandwiches, Philly cheese steaks, gourmet burgers, barbecue nachos and chicken tenders – upgrade service areas to enhance hospitality, and continue to provide more traditional food items.

“We are thrilled and honored to have been chosen to serve the students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans of the University of Notre Dame,” said Greg Fender, senior vice president of Centerplate with executive responsibility for the new partnership. “We are eager to partner with the University and its dedicated volunteer groups to deliver extraordinary fan experiences.”

Centerplate has successfully collaborated with non-profit organizations in many of its other operations nationwide.

Affleck-Graves said that while the commission for non-profit groups will be reduced from 15 percent to 12 percent, “projections are that the groups will actually make as much or more money because improvements in service and food quality and variety are expected to generate more customers and more overall revenue.” He added that non-profit groups no longer will be required to handle the set-up in concession stands a day in advance of events, reducing the time commitment of volunteers. Centerplate also will give non-profit organizations the opportunity to work and raise additional funds at other events under its management.

Centerplate operates concession services at Century Center and the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. With the addition of Notre Dame, the company will serve as hospitality partner to 24 leading colleges and universities, as well as more than 250 other athletics stadiums, entertainment venues and convention centers in North America. It has provided service at 11 Super Bowls, 20 World Series and 15 U.S. presidential balls.