Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Concessions provider says 75 will lose jobs after KU terminates contract


An official at Mid-America Concessions said the local company is in line to cease operations after failing to acquire a bid from Kansas Athletics.

As Kansas Athletics negotiates with a new concession provider for its home games, the move will bring about the end of a local company that had the contract since 1990.

Mona Kloster, general manager of Mid-America Concessions, said Kansas Athletics informed the company that it would not be receiving the bid for the service in early March.

The loss of the Kansas Athletics contract — the main source of revenue for the company — means that the company’s 75 full- and part-time employees will lose their jobs after the athletic season ends in May, Kloster said.

“We will all be unemployed,” she said.

Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director for external relations, said Kansas Athletics is in discussions with Centerplate about potentially providing the service.

South Carolina-based Centerplate is a national company that does concessions for many civic arenas and professional sports teams across the nation, including the Kansas City Chiefs, the Kansas City Wizards and Kemper Arena.

It also operates concessions for some colleges and universities, including the University of Colorado and the University of Louisville.

Marchiony would not confirm any other details of the process, including whether Mid-America Concessions had been informed that it would not receive the bid again.

“We’re not going to say anything until we’re done with the entire process,” Marchiony said.

That will be done as soon as possible, Marchiony said, adding that a contract will need to be in place well in advance of the next football season.

Kloster said Mid-America Concessions was formed in 1990 at the request of then-athletic director Bob Frederick, and has been operating at Kansas University sporting events ever since.

Most employees will lose their jobs on May 17, while four will continue until May 29, she said. The company mostly operates nine months out of the year, when athletic events are being held on campus.

“There is a trend among college concessions right now to go with big contracts,” Kloster said.

Employees include people who clean and stock concession stands, people involved in the delivery and warehousing of products and general maintenance, among others, Kloster said.

Kloster said she didn’t know how the athletic corporation and the new concession provider would handle the 65-70 nonprofit groups that currently help staff concession stands as a fundraiser for their organizations.

Those groups include churches, youth groups, baseball and softball teams and other community organizations, including the Lawrence Free State High School band, Kloster said.

Diana Evans, director of marketing for Centerplate, said the business offers similar opportunities for nonprofit groups in other college locations where it operates, but that each venue’s operations can vary.

The details of any particular situation involving nonprofit groups at KU would not be known until a contract had been signed, she said.


Ben Kane 11 years, 7 months ago

this is rather disappointing. Nothing like taking money out of local people's hands who in turn spend that money locally and giving instead to big national corporations who won't spend a dime of it in Lawrence.

Beak 11 years, 7 months ago

how about a little protectionism for the home team. If they make a competitive bid, let them keep the contract.

KUGreenMachine 11 years, 7 months ago

maybe they will be going to a vendor that doesn't just sell $5 20oz coke and 1.5oz BAGS of mini chips with their nachos. hopefully the bid isn't just going to this new company due to just money and hopefully they will be bringing in a bigger/better product that offers more choices and resembles the big boys. with better products comes a better game experience, and on the tail end a better profit for all those involved. I hope that this new company will make an effort to employee those that lost their jobs and aparently depend on the concession business? Sounds to me that this would be a simple part time job that brings in a few extra bucks...which you can get anywhere. If not and there are those that are truely enthused to be in the consession business, then I hope that they are given the opportunity to apply with this new company.

KUGreenMachine 11 years, 7 months ago

on second thought, it is trying to imply that 75 people will be unemployed?? How is this even possible. I think they need to be more realistic and admit that maybe 5 at the most out of this 75 use consessions as their full time and only income. There is no way that 75 people based out of Lawrence would be able to work 40 hours a week doing consessions when there are what 2 or 3 games a week that require consessions and last maybe 4 hours at most??? I think they are trying to paint a more grim picture than what is actually occurring. Yes, I believe that a couple people will be losing their jobs and have to find full time work elsewhere, but 75 will be unemployed is an exaggeration. If you can get a part time job at consessions, then you can get part time work at a gas station, grocery store, fast food, walmart, etc. etc. Anyway, I just hope this new company brings in better nachos.

KUGreenMachine 11 years, 7 months ago

AHHH, this title is annoying, I can't get over it!!!

jayhawkinATL 11 years, 7 months ago

I agree...if the bid is competitive AND comparable (regarding services and goods provided), I say keep it local!!!

d_prowess 11 years, 7 months ago

KUGreenMachine, I agree especially since as others have indicated, probably a number of those people will have the chance to be picked up by the new company since they will need people to do the work those part time people do already and they aren't going to be coming from the East Coast to do it. I also hope that it brings in some new food options. They served good food already, but a change is sometimes good.

DCJayhawks 11 years, 7 months ago

Do you people really think they're going to fly in people from South Carolina to work concessions during games? They'll still hire local part time employees, but the bigger company will offer better products and services at lower cost to the university.

rockemchalkemrobots 11 years, 7 months ago

I guess the following is just not an attention grabber: "KU to vendor: 'This is nacho contract.' Spending money in jeopardy as dozens have to reapply for part-time work."l

Eurekahwk 11 years, 7 months ago

Why should people have to re-apply for a job they've been doing? This sucks for them. This is a microcosm of what our government has been doing, outsourcing work. Loyalties definitely don't mean much to KUAC nowadays.

PhxKuFan 11 years, 7 months ago

KU Athletics does not buy any of the product that comes into the concession stands. Mid America buys it and then gives KU a percentage for allowing them to work in their building. It is completely outsourced. KUAC takes their cut. So basically whoever gives them a better cut while offering reasonable prices thats who they are going to pick.

sevenyearhawk 11 years, 7 months ago

Hmm ...

disappointing, but most of these folks will likely be hired on by the new company - you'd think!

4mertiger 11 years, 7 months ago

Nice contrast between the top two stories on the main page right now: 75 to lose jobs because local company gets the shaft, and the other story - Lew Perkins to get an "extra" $750,000 bonus. Lovely!! Aren't there some pretty unfriendly feelings across the country right now over "bonuses" for people who already get obscene salaries?

It is NEVER better to go with the big, outside company over local people. That local business pays taxes and provides jobs in Douglas County. The other outfit? Who knows? Don't tell me KU's concessions are overpriced - have you been to the Chiefs' or the Royals' games??!

This goes right along with yanking faculty and staff tickets to athletic events so KUAC can charge more money for their seats.

Lew Perkins is a greedy, shameless jerk.

djherbman 11 years, 7 months ago

I've seen Lew at locally owned restaurants downtown, his work (and others) led to all the unforgettable moments last year downtown. Our little town was the coolest place in the world that night and I think that's a little bigger economic impact than some part-time nacho vending. If this company isn't diversified enough to sustain this kind of common decision then I think their half-baked business plan has more to do with the jobs being lost. Luckily Mangino puts a lot in to our local restaurants as well.

KUGreenMachine 11 years, 7 months ago

rockemchalkemrobots (anonymous) says... I guess the following is just not an attention grabber: "KU to vendor: 'This is nacho contract.' Spending money in jeopardy as dozens have to reapply for part-time work."l

Haha, now that's funny! I understand they do it to grab attention, but it's not that bad. Also, I'd hope that a national concession company would have a better selection? Guess I'm the only one that has ordered Nachos at a KU game!!!!

Anyway, they probably should have kept the local people, that would make sense. How much money difference are we talking? THATS the real story here. LJ World should have dug deeper to find out how much more money KU will be making. If its not that much then people should be up in arms about this, but if it is a lot of money, then it looks to me to be a good business decision. I agree with the previous statement also. If this company basically operates only with KU, then you'd think they would have done all they can to keep multi year contracts with them.

PhxKuFan 11 years, 7 months ago

4Mertiger it sounds like you are still a tiger. "Lew Perkins is a greedy and shameless jerk." All he has done is keep the coach that we won the national championship with, put football on the map(kept that coach as well) and has improved or on the way(baseball staduim and rowing) to improving every athletic facility(remodeled allen fieldhouse, softball locker rooms, track locker rooms all KUAC offices) that ku has. It is stupid to think that this company will not hire people from lawrence to work at all of the games. If you have ever shopped at wal mart for one single thing then you everything you just said is hypocritical. In order to keep winning in college athletics you have to get as much money as you possibly can. If you want to lose then your theory is right.

Marcia Parsons 11 years, 7 months ago

KUGreenMachine: you said " LJ World should have dug deeper to find out how much more money KU will be making." What I understood from the article is that a final decision has not been made yet, so a contract with figures would not be available. Maybe they will give us more details when it's all decided.

5DecadeHawk 11 years, 7 months ago

There is little doubt that the new vendor will be hiring many staff for servicing KU events. It's likely that many of those that are losing their current positions will have the opportunities with the new company.

In fact, I imagine that the new company will WANT to hire some veterans from the old company that already are familiar with KU's facilities and people.

The owners of "Mid America" most certainly will be impacted harshly. The rest of their staff need not be impacted as harshly if they are proactive about seeking employment with the new company.

Carter Patterson 11 years, 7 months ago

Capitalism has its cruel moments, but its much better than the alternative. Many of the people can still get hired by the new company. I doubt they are flying them from SC to work the games.

Ryan Wood 11 years, 7 months ago

I can't help but think this was set up to be a jab at KUAC.

I think this sucks for a local business, and I cringe whenever anybody loses work in this economy (I think it's fair to ask how many of the 75 are actually full-time). I also think that KU doesn't have an obligation to anybody. Business is business.

Hope it works out for everyone.

FlaHawk 11 years, 7 months ago

They may hire existing employees from Mid-American, but the wage will be significantly less. Just a sign of the times. Raise the prices and lower the wages. KUAD wins and so does Centerplate. Capitalism is so much fun :-)!

Scott Perlmutter 11 years, 7 months ago

This article is VERY misleading. I worked for Centerplate, Ovations and many other concessions companies for many years. I onced experienced the take over described in this article. Centerplate will hire almost all of the employees currently working at games at KU. Also, they will not be paid less, but more. Workers get a percentage of sales and Centerplate is known for paying the HIGHEST percentages in the business as all of their employees are union. I went from getting 15-16% of the gross to 18.5-20% at Centerplate. They will all get a laid off notice in the mail one day and the next day they will get an application in the mail from Centerplate. The new company still needs people to work! Also, MidAmerican was paying far too less for the contract. Industry average is about 30-40% of the gross sales going to the Stadium/Team. KU was getting FAR FAR LESS! This is a great move!

Jeff Dean 11 years, 7 months ago

Just keep the Dipn' Dots and Funnel Cakes and my family will be happy.

KUAlum2000 11 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, this is not an accurate article...

I worked for MAC part time when I went to school and they had 3, maybe 4, full time employees; one being the person quoted in the article, another the owner and a third was the owners kid. The rest were local folks that worked part time on game days for extra spending money. MAC did also have the contract with the city to do concessions out at the sports park (YSL, I think?).

Its a little disappointing, but a business is a business. Whoever gets the contract will hire local folks and that money will stay there. Even the full time folks will be local, or live local, and keep the money in Lawrence.

jimbo4584 11 years, 7 months ago

Start serving beer at games...Now there's some change I truly can believe in.

KGphoto 11 years, 7 months ago

Bigger companies, with fewer local ties. Great.

They should try to be a little more forward thinking. Boulder is a good model.

KUGreenMachine 11 years, 7 months ago

KGphoto...can't lawrence just be the 2nd hippiest town in America and let Boulder take #1? lol.

Also, I'm glad that some actual employees responded to show that this article/ title is a bit misleading...

Larry Smith 11 years, 7 months ago

The funny part about KG's statement and example is that CU, obviously located in Boulder, uses Centerplate for their concessions.

Now thats forward thinking.

rtst31975 11 years, 7 months ago

I was going to say just that JayHawk...sounds like it's a good fit if you ask me. I am excited to see the new changes that hopefully come with more choices, fresher food and better pricing.

barackchalkjhawk 11 years, 5 months ago

More choices hopefully and a full bar or two would be nice...bloody mary variety since all of our games will be at 11:00 or 11:30 this year.

lisan8989 10 years, 10 months ago

centerplate is the worst concessions company in the US, and has lost several big accounts after food and safety issues from accounts like the NBA pistons account they loss for poor food quality and terrible customer service, van andel arena in grand rapids and US bank arena in cincinnati where loss due to poor management, they do no training for their staff and I have worked at a non profit group that was thrown to the wolves at a major league baseball game at K.C and received no training and they said we earned nothing because the money was short, centerplates inventory is done by hand and they can make mistakes that cost the non-profit group thier earnings. the compnay has been bought and sold many times and the management has no long term roots to the community they are just waiting to be bought by a bigger company

Commenting has been disabled for this item.