Sporting Kansas City has signed a five-year deal with Legends Hospitality to take over all aspects of food service at Sporting Park.
The concessionaire, co-owned by the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees, replaces Delaware North Sportservice after the MLS team mutually agreed to part ways with the food provider and American Vending, its local partner at the facility.
The decision to switch vendors four seasons after the stadium opened in 2011 was less about the American Sportservice joint venture and more about Legends’ “best-in-class” philosophy to upgrade the food operation, said Jake Reid, Sporting KC’s chief revenue officer.
“We thought they were a good aesthetic fit in general,” Reid said. “We have five clubs in addition to concourse concessions, and they should all have a different look and feel.”
The team issued an RFP and did extensive research on food service. Sporting KC officials thought seriously about going in-house to run general concessions and premium dining, and talked to teams that run food internally, before deciding that subcontracting remained the best option.
Legends, born out of serving AT&T Stadium and Yankee Stadium, came closest to the self-operation model, Reid said.
“Ultimately, going in-house is a two- to three-year learning curve, and as a young brand and stadium, we weren’t ready to take on that responsibility,” he said.
It didn’t hurt that Reid and Mike Tomon, Legends’ president of North American sports and events, have a business relationship dating to eight years ago, when they both worked for the old Charlotte Bobcats. Tomon later went to AEG, owner of MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy and co-owner of the Houston Dynamo, and kept in touch with Reid over the years before landing with Legends. Tomon’s ties with Reid helped open the door for Legends to begin conversations about potentially taking over the Kansas City stadium.
“We had some conversations and it became apparent they were making a switch early from Delaware North,” Tomon said. “It’s a key account for us. The value they put on the customer experience is almost obsessive.”
Legends’ on-site general manager, Harry Smith, is a holdover from Sportservice. The new food provider is in search of an executive chef and sous chefs.
Sporting KC is Legends’ second MLS account, in addition to FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.