Concessionaires in L.A., Orlando get an assist from revenue boosts during 2009 NBA Finals

Concessionaires in L.A., Orlando get an assist from revenue boosts during 2009 NBA Finals

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on June 14 in Orlando, Fla., but the foodservice operators at the teams’ home arenas are both winners, observers said.

Los Angeles’ Staples Center benefited from fan spending during two championship games, while Amway Arena in Orlando housed three showdowns before the series ended in Game 5. The series would have gone back to Los Angeles for two more games if they had been necessary to determine the best-of-seven winner.

Making it to the Finals is a major event for teams and contractors alike, as those two to four extra games can mean a big boost to sales.

The level of additional sales depends on how many games are played in a stadium, said Chris Bigelow, president of The Bigelow Cos. [3], a Kansas City, Mo.-based consulting firm specializing in sports, entertainment and convention foodservice.

“But probably in the playoffs they’re averaging about $15 per person times whatever the stadium holds,” he said. “If you multiply that out, that’s probably about what they’re doing per game times however many games they get in the playoffs.”

The Staples Center has a capacity of more than 19,000 for basketball events, so by Bigelow’s formula a reasonable estimate would be $285,000 in additional revenue for a single championship game at that stadium, or $570,000 for the two it hosted.

The Amway Arena can seat more than 17,000 for basketball games, putting its estimated sales during a championship game at $255,000, according to that formula. However, actual sales turned out to be higher. Allen Johnson, executive director of the Orlando Venues Department, reports that the gross concessions for Game 5, the last night of the finals, were $353,562.97, with an average of $22.64 spent per person. He also noted that Game 5 was not the most profitable game of the Finals for the Amway Arena. Game 4 on June 11 set the record for concessions with sales of $382,430.38, or $24.06 per person.

Bigelow said important sporting events like the NBA Finals are recession-resistant when it comes to spending.

“If you win, the recession issues don’t mean a lot,” he said. “So, obviously, if your team has made it to the playoffs, you’re there to celebrate and have fun. For the average fan who is going to the game, if they can get a hold of tickets, then they are going to spend money when they’re in the building.”

Last year’s NBA Finals ended in Game 6, with the Boston Celtics defeating the Lakers at the Delaware North [4]-owned and -operated TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. That game set a record for total food, beverage and retail sales at the stadium, where attendance was recorded at 18,624, said Mike Zielinski, general manager of TD Banknorth Sportservice.

“With folks arriving early to savor the moment and then the blowout, fans really had an opportunity to add their favorite foods and beverages and commemorative merchandise to the experience and celebration,” Zielinski said.

For the 2009 NBA Finals, Chicago-based Levy Restaurants [5], which operates the foodservice at the Lakers’ home Staples Center, said it was prepared to serve 800 pounds of beef tenderloin, more than 4,000 pounds of chicken wings and 55,000 hot dogs.— [email protected] [6]