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Delaware North Companies Begins Operating Retail Services for the Columbus Blue Jackets

National Hockey League team is Sportservice division's 15th major sports retail client

BUFFALO, N.Y. (July 7, 2008) – Delaware North Companies Sportservice, already the exclusive food service provider for the Columbus Blue Jackets, has begun managing and operating the National Hockey League (NHL) team’s retail outlets.

On July 1, Sportservice began managing the hockey club’s FSN Ohio Blue Line retail store, inline stand and several kiosks at Nationwide Arena, along with an additional FSN Ohio Blue Line store at The Mall at Tuttle Crossing in suburban Columbus. The team had been managing its own retail services.

In January, the Blue Jackets announced an extension to 2026 of its partnership with Sportservice for concessions, club, and suite food service at Nationwide Arena. Sportservice has worked with the Blue Jackets since the team joined the NHL and the venue opened in 2000.

"We are excited to expand our long-standing partnership with Sportservice by utilizing their breadth of retail experience across multiple major-league sports properties to enhance the retail experience for Blue Jackets fans everywhere," said Larry Hoepfner, the Blue Jackets’ senior vice president of business operations.

Long known as an industry leader in operating concessions and premium food service at major professional sports venues nationwide, Sportservice in recent years has also built a considerable retail portfolio. The Blue Jackets are the company’s 15th major sports retail client and second new retail account added in a month.

"We greatly value our relationship with the team and are very excited about contributing to another key aspect of the great experience that Blue Jackets fans have at Nationwide Arena," said Sportservice President Rick Abramson.

Sportservice will invest $400,000 to redesign displays and lighting in the stores and work with the Blue Jackets to broaden the selection of merchandise available, especially women’s and children’s apparel, said Donna Genesky, Sportservice’s director of retail. Sportservice will also implement the company’s proprietary customer service program, Guestpath®.

In all, Sportservice now handles retail operations for:

  • Four NHL teams: Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning. (As the owner and operator of TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Delaware North also operates retail stores at the arena for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association.)


  • Three NFL teams: Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams, and the Buffalo Bills. Sportservice began operating retail for the Bills on June 1.


  • Eight Major League Baseball teams: Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres and Minnesota Twins, beginning in 2010 at the Twins’ new ballpark.


In addition, Sportservice this year set up massive retail operations almost from scratch for two iconic sporting events earlier this year: the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic outdoor hockey game at Ralph Wilson Stadium and the Dodgers’ exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Among Sportservice’s recent retail accomplishments:

  • Sold more than $700,000 in Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins merchandise working for the NHL at the Jan. 1 Winter Classic. Sportservice set up 36 retail locations inside and outside of the stadium to provide 71,000 fans with a wide array of mementos and apparel, some of which was custom designed by Sportservice for the event.


  • Similarly, Sportservice set up a massive retail operation inside and outside of the L.A. Coliseum for the March 30 game that drew a record 115,000 fans to kick off the Dodgers’ celebration of their 50th anniversary in Los Angeles. The game was sandwiched by exhibition games at Dodger Stadium, where Sportservice, as usual, also handled the team’s retail operations.


  • Sportservice has opened new stores for a number of its baseball clients this season, including second stores at the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ball Park and Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park and new custom T-shirt shops at Miller Park and at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox.


Genesky said Sportservice focuses on being responsive to fans’ tastes and preferences and on enhancing the in-stadium game-day experience, one fan at a time. The approach has helped Sportservice triple its revenue from retail operations since 2002 by adding clients and expanding and enhancing stores within venues.

"The interiors of our stores are becoming more and more dynamic and eye-appealing, incorporating the design and brand of the stadiums and the teams that play there, making it a winning combination for the teams and their customers," said Genesky, who brought more than 20 years of experience in all facets of retail when she joined Sportservice in early 2007.

Sportservice has also applied the retail expertise it has garnered from Delaware North’s significant retail operations at several national and state parks and more than 20 airports. As with Sportservice, Delaware North may be more known for its food service operations, but the company operates more than 300 retail outlets at locations in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.