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Yankees, Cowboys, Goldman Sachs launch new sports-feeding co.

NEWARK N.J. The New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys have teamed up with the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs and a Texas private-equity firm to form a venture that will provide foodservice management, catering and merchandising to sports and entertainment facilities across the country.

The new Legends Hospitality Management will be led by chief executive Michael Rawlings, a former president of Yum Brands Inc.’s Pizza Hut business.

Other officers include president Marty Greenspun and chief operating officer Daniel Smith, who once served as senior vice president of Eastern operations for Centerplate Inc., a sports and entertainment foodservice provider based in Stamford, Conn.

The Yankees, Cowboys, Goldman Sachs and CIC Partners, a private-equity firm affiliated with Rawlings, will own the company. Additionally, the banking firm is providing financing for the deal and will serve as a financial adviser.

CIC said its other investments include stakes in Quiznos and the Red Mango frozen yogurt chain. The Dallas-based company was also the one-time owner of the Texas Rangers professional baseball team in Arlington.

Legends, which will based in Newark, N.J., will provide the foodservices for the Yankees’ and Cowboys’ new stadiums and expects to broaden its culinary operations through a combination of acquisitions, strategic partnerships and continued internal growth, company officials said.

For 40 years, Centerplate provided the foodservices to the original Yankee Stadium, which closed with the conclusion of team's 2008 season. The new stadium is being built across the street. Centerplate lost a bid to renew its contract with the team last year. The company generated 10 percent of its annual revenues, or an estimated $70 million, from that contract alone.

In June, the Yankees announced a deal with Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment, operator of the Hard Rock Cafe chain, to open a 128-seat steakhouse concept, NYY Steak, as well as a 7,000-square-foot Hard Rock Cafe restaurant at the new Yankees Stadium. The facility will open in 2009.

The private-equity firm Kohlberg & Co. recently acquired Centerplate for about $200 million.

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