Concessions provider says 75 will lose jobs after KU terminates contract

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

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.