Sunderland AFC announced today that it has signed a new long-term contract extension with hospitality provider Centerplate to continue to provide public match-day catering at the Stadium of Light, a role it has played since 1997.
As part of the new relationship, Centerplate is establishing Sunderland AFC’s Stadium of Light as a Centre of Excellence – a move which will see the venue become a centre for innovation in sports stadia catering from staff training, and development of new food and drink concepts, to the beta-testing of new equipment and technologies - allowing Sunderland’s fans to enjoy the latest experience enhancement innovations.
Over the past three years, Centerplate has already made significant upgrades to its service offerings at the SoL. In 2012, the company completely revitalised the lower concourse experience with a series of branded retail kiosks which resulted in record sales and a year-on-year spend per head increase greater than 10%.
Each of the successive two seasons has also delivered new year-on-year sales records. Centerplate also recently set a sales record for concerts at the venue at North East Live, where the company’s menus and service locations customised to the family-friendly event, delivered a spend-per-head increase of more than 30% over average concert sales.
To the delight of fans, this season Centerplate has introduced high quality new favourites such as Northumbrian Sausage Stotties with caramelised onions, and a Torn Beef Stottie created by Centerplate’s culinary team, which pairs a popular regional bap with locally-raised meats sourced from the Northumberland farm of J.G. Walton & Son.
New for this season is the launch of “The Big Mackem” burger, a 5oz prime beef burger, custom ground and freshly prepared to Centerplate’s specifications. The company plans to continue developing menus featuring inventive foods and local ingredients in its strategy to enhance the guest experience.
Gary Hutchinson, Commercial Director at Sunderland AFC, says: “We are delighted to be extending our partnership with Centerplate. Over the past decade we have improved our catering and hospitality offering and this is thanks to the fantastic relationship we have forged with Centerplate."
“As a club we are always looking at new innovative ways of improving the experience of every fan or visitor that comes to the Stadium of Light and through this partnership we will look to further develop our public catering offering and look forward to the future and continuing working with Centerplate.”
Adrian Dishington, Chief Operating Officer of Centerplate’s UK Division, adds: “The commercial team at Sunderland AFC has always been innovative in their approach to the business, and their desire to excel in all areas is second to none."
"They are equally committed to personal development, improving catering industry standards and supporting the local community. All of these attributes make them the perfect partner for trialling new ideas and concepts - the environment is fitting for establishing the SoL as a Centre of Excellence.”
Centerplate’s new Hospitality Solutions Group - which has recently been established to integrate the business’s strategic consulting, capital planning, architecture and interior design, equipment procurement, and construction disciplines into a single, comprehensive division to provide a seamless, end-to-end experience solution. - will lead planning for the new Centre of Excellence designation.
The establishment of Centerplate’s Hospitality Solutions Group reflects Centerplate’s dramatic expansion in recent years in taking on larger capital projects in collaboration with its clients with projects ranging from major renovations to new building openings.
Inside the stadium, the food service offerings and environments and the upper concourse will be enhanced, following the great success of the lower concourse updates. Although the project is in its early phases, Centerplate expects to invest several hundreds of thousands of pounds in capital and resources.
The value of the contract extension has not been disclosed