FORBES: New York Yankees Working With Legends In Search For Inaugural Jersey Patch Sponsor

Via Forbes

The New York Yankees are in the market for a company to serve as its jersey patch sponsor beginning in the 2023 season, the first time Major League Baseball will allow teams to sell space on their uniform sleeves.

The Yankees are working with Legends, a company it own a stake in, to manage the search. Chris Hibbs, president of Legends’ Global Partnerships division, said the Yankees are looking to sign a multi-year deal with a sponsor, but he declined to discuss the potential financial parameters.

Still, Hibbs noted that the Yankees have chosen not to have a naming rights deal for its iconic Yankee Stadium, so the organization is looking at the jersey patch as garnering what a stadium naming rights deal would be for a major sports franchise. The high water mark for stadium naming rights occurred late last year when the Los Angeles Lakers signed a 20-year deal with Crypto.com for a total that could exceed $700 million or $35 million per year.

“I would characterize the investment as a top-tier naming rights-type investment,” Hibbs said. “That’s fairly well known in North America, what a naming rights deal for a top-tier venue in a top-tier market goes for. We have those kinds of ambitions.”

MLB reportedly could generate a combined $350 million to $400 million annually through the sponsor patches for an average of up to $13.3 million per team. But the Yankees would likely get much more than the average considering their presence in the nation’s largest media and financial market, storied history (27 World Series titles) and current success as they have an MLB-best 61-26 record.

The Yankees are valued at $6 billion, according to Forbes, making them the second-most valuable franchise in the world behind the Dallas Cowboys ($6.5 billion). The MLB average franchise value is $2.07 billion.

“I would say from a value perspective, you’re talking about the most successful franchise in maybe global sports, certainly North American sports,” Hibbs said. “They’re recognized universally…They’re a fashion brand to some. They’re an iconic baseball team to others. Putting a brand on the pinstripes for the first time ever is a super unique opportunity.”

The Yankees and Dallas Cowboys founded Legends in 2008, with the company initially focused on running concessions and retail merchandising at their stadiums and other sports venues and entertainment complexes. Since then, Legends has become a major player in the sports business ecosystem and expanded to hospitality, sponsorships and numerous other areas.

Sixth Street, a multi-strategy investment firm with more than $60 billion of assets under management, acquired a majority stake in Legends last year in a deal that valued the company at $1.3 billion. The Yankees and Cowboys now own significant minority interests in Legends.

Legends’ Global Partnerships division, which was formed in February 2020, represents franchises, colleges and venues in naming rights deals, jersey sponsorships, real estate developments, events and other areas. The division’s clients include SoFi Stadium, home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Chargers; Allegiant Stadium, home to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders; and the University of Notre Dame.

For MLB’s jersey patches, Legends has agreed only to work with the Yankees, eschewing any overtures from other clubs. Hibbs is leading the Yankees’ assignment with colleagues Dan Migala, co-president and chief revenue officer of Legends Global Technology Solutions; Doug Smoyer, senior vice president at Legends Global Partnerships; and Chris Foy, executive vice president at Legends Global Partnerships. They will be partnering with several Yankees executives, including Michael J. Tusiani, the organization’s senior vice president of partnerships.

The patches will be 4-by-4 inches on the right or left sleeve of players’ uniforms. In April, the San Diego Padres became the first MLB club to announce a jersey patch, signing a contract with Motorola.

The NHL will allow jersey patches for the first time in the 2022-23 season, while the NBA has had jersey patches since 2017. Boardroom, a media company owned by Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant and longtime sports executive Rich Kleiman, reported late last year that the total value of the NBA patches for the 2021-22 season would be $225 million, up from the $100 million that league commissioner Adam Silver envisioned a few years earlier.

For partnership inquiries, please contact Lauren Hutt, lhutt@legends.net

 

Legends Acquires Minority Stake In American Ultimate Disc League

Via Forbes

Legends, a sports advisory and experiences company co-founded in 2008 by the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, has acquired a minority stake in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). The AUDL, which was founded in 2012, has 25 teams in the United States and Canada.

This is the second time Legends has made an equity investment in a sports league. In August 2021, Legends bought an ownership interest in the Professional Fighters League, a mixed martial arts organization.

Legends plans on completing more equity deals in the months and years ahead, primarily in small, recently launched leagues. The AUDL transaction is part of a strategy Legends has implemented since the company earlier this year acquired Maestroe Sports & Entertainment, a consulting and services company focused on so-called “high growth” leagues that are in their early states or have the potential to grow.

As part of that Maestroe deal, Legends launched its Legends Growth Enterprises division, through which the company invests in leagues and helps them with their sponsorships, media rights deals, merchandising and other areas.

Maestroe had been advising the AUDL since 2019, but this expands the relationship through the equity stake and providing more services such as merchandise, data analytics and possibly expanding to other countries.

“This is a very real world example of how now being a part of Legends, we’re able to do so much more for the AUDL than we previously would’ve been able to when we were just Maestroe,” said Gabby Roe, the president of Legends Growth Enterprises who founded Maestroe in 2012. “This is showcasing the vision we had for this Legends Growth Enterprises division.”

Roe would not disclose financial details of the AUDL investment. But a group led by Rob Lloyd, the former president at Cisco Systems CSCO -1.8% Inc., will hold a majority ownership stake in the AUDL. That group had bought a 90% stake in the league in December 2012.

Meanwhile, Steve Hall will remain the AUDL’s chief executive and commissioner. Hall, who started playing Ultimate in 1985 as a sophomore at Georgia Tech, worked for 13 years for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup C -0.1% and launched his own private-equity firm in 2011. He got involved in the AUDL in 2016 when he became co-owner of the league’s team in Atlanta. Two years later, he was named CEO and commissioner.

“I tell people this was the great opportunity of a lifetime where my hobby, my passion for playing Ultimate, comes together with my business acumen in terms of building companies and being in the private equity world,” Hall said. “I still have some private investments that I have on the side, but I’m pretty passive with those now. This is absolutely my full-time. I’m back to 12 to 14 hour days. I feel like I’m back to Goldman Sachs all over again, but like they say, it’s not a job if you enjoy what you’re doing, and I definitely am enjoying it. I’m fully active and fully engaged seven days per week.”

Since its founding 10 years ago, the AUDL has grown from 10 to 25 teams. The regular season runs from late April through late July, with each team playing 12 games. The games are usually on Saturday nights, but some are on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. The top 11 teams advance to the playoffs, culminating with a championship weekend on Aug. 26 and 27 at Breese Stevens Field in Madison, Wisc.

Players in the league receive a small stipend and have their uniforms and travel costs covered, separating it from other Ultimate leagues where players pay to compete. The teams also each have a physician, trainer and health and services manager that can help them train and recover from injuries. About 90% of the AUDL players are former college players who now have full-time jobs while the others are current college students.

Each team is independently owned and generates revenue through ticket sales, merchandise, concessions, local sponsorships and youth camps and clinics.

The AUDL’s league office, meanwhile, earns money primarily through national sponsorships and media and data deals. The league has a contract with Fox Sports, with the network’s Fox Sports 2 cable channel airing AUDL games on Saturday nights and showing replays on Wednesday nights. It also has its own streaming service, AUDL.tv, where fans can pay $9.99 per month to watch all the games.

In April, the AUDL signed a five-year deal LSports Data, an Israeli firm that will have access to AUDL’s player and game data and create gambling products for companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel.

Hall is looking to expand the AUDL’s betting deals and get into video games, non-fungible tokens, customized discs, shirts and gear and other areas. The AUDL plans on working with Legends’ technology group that specializes in collecting and analyzing customer data.

“We can make a lot smarter decisions in how we market and advertise to those people,” Hall said. “Now we have a lot more data behind us when we go and talk to a sponsor, discuss the breakdown and why the sponsor might really like the clientele of the AUDL.”

Last year, Sixth Street, an investment firm, acquired a majority stake in Legends that valued the company at $1.3 billion. Legends works with clients in professional and college sports and entertainment, helping them with business plans, sponsorships, arena naming rights, hospitality and numerous other areas.

“What we see Legends being able to do is they provide a level of service that we wouldn’t be able to touch for years and years,” Hall said. “We’re too small for the Legends’ typical clientele. The fact that they are excited to look at the emerging sports they think could be the next big thing and they want to partner with us is terrific. We think they’re going to really help raise our profile and provide high-quality talent at scale, which we wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.”

United Soccer League Taps Legends for Decade-Long Sales and Fan Effort

Via Sportico

The United Soccer League has inked a 10-year deal focused on maintaining growth momentum with Legends, the experiential and data and analytics business, the two companies announced this morning.

Legends will seek to boost national sponsorship sales, generate actionable fan insights and uncover innovative business solutions for the men’s and women’s teams through the USL’s leagues. The USL has professional and club teams in about 200 communities in the U.S., and has designs on challenging MLS supremacy for the sport by aligning with the global soccer norms around season timing and possibly embracing relegation, according to an April story in the Sacramento Bee.

“This long-term partnership with Legends will help us take advantage of the tremendous opportunity ahead of us,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis in a press release. “We are aligning more closely with the global game than any other American soccer property, and as we enter a critical, new growth phase for our commercial business, Legends’ unmatched expertise in both global football and the domestic sports landscape will help us achieve our key business objectives.”

The USL operates three professional leagues: the USL Championship in men’s soccer, the USL Super League in women’s soccer and USL One, another men’s league. The organization also operations two “pre-professional leagues” and two national youth leagues.

Legends, started by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees to operate their new stadium offerings in 2008, has extensive experience in working with soccer organizations, including a recent deal to revamp Real Madrid’s stadium. Legends will work with the USL to increase its local presence and grow through stadium planning, ticketing strategies, naming rights and sales, merchandising and other areas, according to the release.

In particular, the organizations see the 2026 men’s World Cup being held mainly in the U.S. as a key event to help market and promote soccer in the U.S., according to the release. Terms of the partnership with Legends weren’t publicly disclosed.

Click here to read the full article.

Real Madrid strikes €360mn events deal for revamped stadium

Via Financial Times

Club announces partnership with investment group Sixth Street as part of efforts to diversify revenues

Real Madrid has struck a €360mn deal with investment group Sixth Street and US sports entertainment group Legends to develop concerts and other events at its Santiago Bernabéu stadium and diversify its revenues.

The deal, which will be announced on Thursday, injects fresh cash into Spain’s best known football club as it recovers from the financial damage inflicted by the pandemic.

It also demonstrates the ways football clubs are attempting to increase revenues as the cost of buying and paying top players continues to rise.

Real Madrid is in the process of installing a retractable roof and pitch in its 81,000 capacity stadium. This will be completed next year and allow it to host concerts and other events at the venue.

Legends was formed in 2008 by owners of the New York Yankees professional baseball team and the Dallas Cowboys American football team to help venues develop live events. Sixth Street, which manages more than $60bn in assets, took a majority stake in the business last year.

The Bernabéu stadium lags major US sporting venues for the amount that fans spend per visit. Legends will work with Real Madrid to try to improve this, including by enhancing its VIP hospitality and the club museum.

As part of the deal, a new company will be set up to manage the stadium and the proceeds from the new business will be split 70 per cent for Real Madrid and the rest to Sixth Street. The agreement will run for 20 years.

“The transformation of the Santiago Bernabéu stadium will be a turning point in the history of Real Madrid. This alliance . . . will be fundamental in providing unique experiences in a stadium where multiple events can be hosted throughout the year,” said Florentino Pérez, the billionaire tycoon who is president of Real Madrid.

Real Madrid weathered the pandemic better than many of its European rivals, posting combined net profits of around €1.2mn across the 2019/20 and 20/21 seasons.

Next weekend, it will play England’s Liverpool football club in the Uefa Champions League final, the most prestigious club competition in Europe, with €15.5mn guaranteed regardless of the outcome and a further €4.5mn at least for the winner. Overall, each club stands to earn in the region of at least €100mn from the tournament as a whole.

Real Madrid has already won the Spanish league this year.

The club has clashed repeatedly with Spain’s top domestic league La Liga over the sport’s financial future. Pérez is among the main advocates of a new European Super League for the region’s top teams, although the project rapidly collapsed after its unveiling in April 2021, because of opposition from rivals, fans and politicians.

Pérez also tried to derail a deal between CVC Capital and La Liga, under which La Liga handed the private equity group a slice of its future broadcast and media rights over 50 years in exchange for €2bn.

Real Madrid is being advised by Key Capital and Sixth Street is working with JPMorgan.

Buffalo Bills Hire Legends to Help Plan and Market New Stadium

Via Sportico

The Buffalo Bills have hired Legends to lead project management, sales and partnerships for the new NFL stadium to be constructed in Orchard Park, N.Y. Legends started working with the Bills a year ago to help the team explore stadium feasibility and has been handling e-commerce for the team for about the same period of time.

“Why are we working with Legends? They’re the best,” said Ron Raccuia, Bills executive vice president, in a phone call. “We interviewed everyone, left no stone unturned. At the end of the day we felt best about their technical expertise, their strategic vision and a personality that fit best with us.”

The Bills are planning to replace their 48-year old stadium with a new facility nearby that will be jointly financed by the team, Erie County and New York state. Taxpayers will kick in at least $850 million toward the stadium, probably two-thirds of the total cost.

Legends has been involved with the planning of numerous arenas since its founding in 2008, including recent NFL facilities in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. “We’re proud of the fact we’re the go-to for these very important projects for one of the most important leagues the world,” said Legends CEO Shervin Mirhashemi, in a phone interview. “There’s a reason for that: There’s expertise and an acumen that we bring to the table about how these projects work, what their life cycles are and how you monetize them.”

The Bills and Legends have already held focus groups with fans and conducted surveys to help in planning, according to a release scheduled to go out later this morning. In addition to arena design, Legends will assist the team in selling seat licenses, naming rights and “founding partner” arrangements. “It’s been a data-driven approach, using our feasibility business and our data analytics business to help them formulate what is consumer demand—what are they looking for?” added Mirhashemi.

Since it’s early in the design process, there aren’t a lot of decisions yet settled about the stadium, but the club hopes to incorporate some features that work well in other NFL venues as well as elsewhere, said Raccuia, citing London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and LAFC’s MLS stadium as examples.

“We have a unique opportunity to build a football stadium for the Buffalo Bills and for our community, without having to worry about everything else,” Raccuia said. “We’re not hosting Super Bowl in our stadium, we’re not looking to be the driver for economic revitalization—we’re looking for the best football experience we can create. The best thing we can do for western New York is to win football games and create an unbelievable atmosphere in our community.”

The Bills, purchased by Kim and Terry Pegula in 2014, play in one of the smallest markets in the NFL, and Raccuia hopes the new bowl can provide an example for other small market NFL franchises. The team won’t pursue mixed use real estate development, as other teams have done (in part because New York will own the land and facility), but the team will support any related efforts, he added.

Legends was founded as a joint venture of the New York Yankees and Jones Concessions LP, an affiliate of the Dallas Cowboys. The business has evolved to incorporate strategic planning, marketing, commerce, branding and technology solutions for sports teams and non-sports businesses, such as Freedom Tower’s One World Observatory. Last year, Sixth Street Management bought control of Legends at a valuation of $1.35 billion, with the founding teams retaining sizable minority stakes. More recently Legends has been increasing its business outside the U.S., recently being named part of a redevelopment team for Manchester United’s Old Trafford.

“We’ve really been true to who we are,” Mirhashemi said, “humbly being an expert to help these projects achieving what they’re fully capable of achieving, and doing it in a white-label way, putting the client brand at the forefront.”

 

Legends extends record hospitality run at Super Bowl LVI

Via SportBusiness

The National Football League’s Super Bowl LVI followed up a strong domestic media showing with record-setting hospitality totals.

Legends, the league’s official retail merchandise concessionaire for Super Bowl LVI, said that it generated per capita spending of $167.37 (€147.25) across concessions, premium dining, and merchandise sales, marking the highest such figure for a full-capacity Super Bowl. 

Last year’s Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, generated a comparable spending average of $212, marking an overall event record. But that game was limited to about 25,000 attendees, less than half the capacity of Raymond James Stadium, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The total for Super Bowl LVI, a comeback victory for the Los Angeles Rams, beat by 14 per cent the prior full-capacity mark of Super Bowl 50 six years ago in San Francisco, California.

Legends is the concessionaire at SoFi Stadium, home of the Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, and the company in 2020 completed a deal with the NFL to handle event merchandise for the league’s marquee events including the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, and Draft.

Overall, Legends generated more than $18m in revenue for nine days of activities this month that included the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, Nevada, the run-up to Super Bowl LVI, and gameday itself on February 13. In addition to selling merchandise on site at SoFi Stadium and Allegiant Stadium, Legends also managed the official merchandise shop at the Super Bowl Experience fan attraction in downtown Los Angeles, and pop-up and hotel locations around the city.

“Our team was incredibly proud to be a part of Super Bowl LVI, turning up the spotlight on Los Angeles and celebrating the diverse culture of the area through our food and beverage program at SoFi Stadium and unique merchandise partnerships with local artists,” said Dan Smith, Legends Hospitality president.

“The buzz around the game and the city was incredible, with the home team playing and back to a full-capacity Super bowl. Our team worked around the clock to ensure an expedient, first-class experience for fans inside the stadium and at the retail locations throughout the city,” Smith said.

In addition to an early-arriving crowd for the game, the totals were also boosted by more than 900 concession points of sale at SoFi Stadium between fixed and handheld locations, with temporary locations such as portable trailers installed to help manage the heightened demand. 

Legends Acquires Maestroe Sports & Entertainment, Launches New Division

Via Forbes

Since graduating from the University of Virginia in 1991, Gabby Roe has devoted his professional career to launching, helping lead and consulting for niche sports properties. Roe’s experience includes founding a beach soccer league, serving as an executive for Major League Lacrosse and the AVP beach volleyball league and running his own sports consulting company for the past 10 years.

That firm, Maestroe Sports & Entertainment, has worked with dozens of clients to achieve and exceed their business objectives. And now, Maestroe is taking the next step in its evolution, as the company has been acquired by Legends, a company founded in 2008 by the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys that initially focused on running the concessions at their stadiums and others at sports venues and entertainment complexes.

Since then, Legends has grown to become a major advisory firm working with clients in professional and college sports and entertainment, helping them with business plans, sponsorship sales, arena naming rights deals, merchandising and other areas. Last year, Sixth Street, an investment firm with $60 billion of assets under management, acquired a majority stake in Legends in a deal that valued the company at $1.3 billion. The Yankees and Cowboys continue to hold a significant minority stake in Legends.

Mike Tomon, the co-president and chief operating officer of Legends, would not disclose financial details of the Maestroe deal. But he said the addition of Maestroe helps Legends expand into what he calls “growth” sports leagues that are in their early stages or have the potential to become a bigger part of the industry. As such, Legends has launched a new division, dubbed Legends Growth Enterprises, that will be led by Roe.

The division will continue to work with Maestroe’s existing clients, which include the International Axe Throwing Federation, Spikeball, USA Pickleball and Karate Combat. It will also pursue other sports clients as well as those in the entertainment industry.

“The underpinning (of Legends) has always been about growth for our clients,” Tomon said. “As we looked to further expand that approach, we saw Gabby and Maestroe as uniquely positioned to not only further that but to be a key differentiator on how they approach some of these earlier stage opportunities. As Gabby likes to coin them, they’re the tech stocks of the (sports) business.”

Roe describes Maestroe as “the unofficial but self-proclaimed flag-bearer of these emerging sports properties” that are overshadowed in the United States by the NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and other established leagues. The company’s work through the years has included helping new leagues get off the ground with their business plans, helping leagues secure venues and media rights deals and aiding with sponsorship sales. 

A few months ago, Roe was talking about a new sports league with Shervin Mirhashemi, a longtime friend and the chief executive of Legends. The two had those types of informal conversations on a regular basis, but this time Mirhashemi brought up the idea of Legends acquiring Maestroe.

Roe said he was not looking to sell the company and had not hired an investment bank to pursue suitors. But the more he spoke with Mirhashemi, the more the idea of a sale made sense. By becoming part of Legends, Maestroe will expand their capabilities in sponsorships and other business lines while expanding to areas where they had not been active, including data and analytics and merchandising.

The new Legends division may also acquire equity stakes in up-and-coming sports leagues, something Maestroe had not previously done.

“I have loved and respected the Legends brand since it was launched,” Roe said. “It’s a dream come true for me to be able to join up with Legends and Shervin and Mike Tomon and the whole team.”

He added: “We see ourselves as the advocate for these (niche sports). Even more than the personal side of it, it’s showing these emerging sports are real and there’s a place for them in the sports hierarchy. We’ve been sticking up for the little guy for many years. It’s nice to have a large, extremely reputable company (in Legends) that believes alongside of us and is now going to pump as much of their expertise and resources into these sports properties. I think it’s awesome for the industry.”

The Maestroe acquisition is the latest deal for Legends. Late last month, the company announced it had bought 4FRONT, a data and analytics and digital media firm whose clients have included the UFC, Chicago Bears and New York Mets. Tomon noted that Legends will use 4FRONT’s technologies and capabilities to help clients that Maestroe has worked with and attract new business. He also expects Legends will complete more deals in the coming months, as well, thanks to Sixth Street’s investment.

“(Sixth Street) brings a ton of strategic and financial wherewithal to ultimately help the growth of the business,” Tomon said. “We are in growth mode. But we’re really focused on the right type of growth, to make sure it’s strategic and fits in with the overall vision. We’re aggressively pursuing that.”

Legends Expands Analytics Capabilities With 4Front Acquisition

Via SportTechie

Global sports and entertainment advisory company Legends has bought data analytics and digital media company 4Front. Legends’ Global Technology Solutions division will now be headed by 4Front co-founders Josh Kritzler as its new co-president and COO, and Dan Migala as co-president and CRO.

4Front brings with it a long list of customers in the sports world, having consulted with Chelsea FC, the Chicago Bears, New York Mets, Oklahoma City Thunder and the NCAA. Legends has provided technical solutions for major venues across the sports world, including SoFi Stadium, Yankee Stadium and AT&T Stadium. The company’s solutions span venue management, ticket sales and fan experiences.

Legends partnered with the Professional Fighters League last year and received an equity stake in the league. Legends will oversee sponsorship, ticketing sales and venue operations for the league, as well as help develop a training venue.

Legends Names Pair of Managing Directors in Europe

Via SportBusiness

Legends, the United States-based premium experiences company, has bulked up its international presence further with the selection of two executives to lead key European markets.

The company named Martin Jennings as managing director of Legends’ operations in the United Kingdom, as well as head of global planning for Legends’ international business. Jennings joined Legends International in 2018 and had been senior vice president of project development.

Legends also has named former Sportfive executive Jens König as managing director of central Europe. König – who will manage Legends’ operations in the area from Hamburg, Germany – had been Sportfive’s senior vice president and head of global business development.

The moves come after global investment firm Sixth Street earlier this year acquired majority control of Legends, with the deal containing a clear mission to grow the company’s international profile.

To that end, further managing director hires are also being planned for France, Italy, and Spain, and those managing directors will collectively comprise an international operating committee.

Andrew Hampel, previously president of Legends International, is now transitioning to a new role as senior advisor beginning in October.

“We have established a world-class foundation in the international market, and are poised for extraordinary growth,” said Mike Tomon, Legends co-president and chief operating officer. “To accelerate this growth, and to continue to deliver at the highest level for our clients, we are excited to launch an enhanced operations model led by two native-born, world-class experts in Martin and Jens.

“This strategic approach not only represents the recognition of the uniqueness of each regional business environment, but also highlights our commitment to continue to invest in significant infrastructure across our unique 360-degree platform,” Tomon said.

Tomon, a longtime Legends executive, was recently named the company’s first co-president along with Curt McClellan, who comes to the operations from a prior role as executive in residence for KSL Capital Partners.

“As we ramp back up at a rapid pace, we are positioning our company to more effectively execute our long-term growth strategy and must match that with the right leadership and structure to support our teams and clients, ensuring that we can sustain and elevate the world-class service we deliver to partners,” said Shervin Mirhashemi, Legends chief executive.

Legends continues to have a sizable presence in numerous key sectors of the sports industry, including concessions, hospitality, naming rights and sponsorship sales and valuation, ticketing, merchandising, fundraising, and venue technology.

Jon & VIinny Promise Cheeseburger Subs And Fried Hot Dogs at SoFi Stadium This Year

Via EaterLA

More details are emerging about the upcoming Jon & Vinny collaborations at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, home of both the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. Stadium officials recently announced the star duo as a kind of chefs in residence, working collaboratively with concessions company Legends on menus that will be available across the stadium.

The overall program, known as LA Eats, will be loosely constructed around four different menus, each named for a street or area within greater Los Angeles. First up is the Fairfax, harkening to Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s spiritual LA home, where their award-winning restaurants Animal, Jon & Vinny’s, and (nearby) Son of a Gun reside. The new Fairfax stadium menu “is a sub, deli, cheeseburger concept,” mixing everything from chicken salad subs to fried ‘ripper’ hot dogs and a burger-sub hybrid featuring elongated patties of beef on griddled rolls (seriously, it looks wild). A promo video for the Fairfax menu can be found below.

The Fairfax menu, which also includes vegan chili and a jalapeño cheddar sausage, among other options, represents one quarter of the full LA Eats menu. SoFi Stadium reps say the plan is to drop new announcements about the upcoming menus each week. Shook and Dotolo collaborated on menus throughout the stadium at each concession area, and will feature different themes based on local streets and areas. Next up is the San Vicente Boulevard menu.

As for the stadium overall, there’s still much to uncover about the food — including a different vendor setup at the box seat and VIP levels — both inside and out. Beyond the walls of the NFL stadium, built by billionaire Stan Kroenke, there are further plans to build an entire nightlife and hospitality community, with sit-down restaurants for pre-game meals, hotels, retail, and more. And while the Hollywood Park site project has been delayed by a full year as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently said that all counties would likely ‘fully reopen’ for business (including full-scale in person live events) by June 15, paving the way for a big year at SoFi Stadium, at least. As for the smaller longtime businesses around the stadium in Inglewood, that remains to be seen.

SoFi Stadium Partners With Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo to Make Food at Venue

Via Los Angeles Times

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, owners of Animal, Son of a Gun and the Jon and Vinny’s restaurants, are working on the food lineup for SoFi Stadium, the 3.1-million-square-foot, indoor-outdoor sports and entertainment complex in Inglewood that is home to the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.

“Most stadiums, the approach is, ‘Hey, let’s go get Domino’s to pay us to put a concession stand in our stadium,‘” Shook said. “The approach here is ‘Hey, we are going to build one of the nicest kitchens we’ve been in, underground in the basement, and we’re going to produce all the food that goes to the concession stands.‘”

Shook and Dotolo are acting as culinary consultants to help with menu development and product sourcing at the stadium, which can seat 70,000 to 100,000 people, depending on the setup. They’re working with executive chef Robert Biebrich and vice president of culinary innovation Gretchen Beaumarchais of Legends, the hospitality company that will operate the stadium’s culinary program. Legends also handles the concessions at Angel Stadium and a number of other venues around the country.

The James Beard award-winning chefs are used to cooking for a crowd. Dotolo and Shook operate a successful catering and events company called Caramelized Productions, and they also partnered with Delta Air Lines in 2019 to create dishes for select Delta One flights.

While they wouldn’t discuss specific stadium menu items just yet, they did share that they worked with the Legends team to create four concepts for the 42 concession stands. The idea is to offer re-imagined versions of stadium classics. Hot dogs, cheeseburgers and chicken tenders were all mentioned during our conversation.

“There’s going to be hot dogs, because it’s a stadium,” Shook said. “We tasted probably 50 different hot dogs.”

Shook said they narrowed down the choices to the top 10 and then made some calls to ensure that producers could handle the volume needed for a stadium of this size. He and Dotolo then tested buns, toppings and all the other components of the menu items.

Scaling items made it almost impossible to use select producers. But some were able to make it work.

“We were able to bring in DiNapoli tomatoes, the ones we use at Jon and Vinny’s,” Dotolo said.

The concession stands will feature glass windows that offer a view into their kitchens. They are also strategically placed to offer views of the field and the videoboard, a screen with 70,000 square feet of digital LED that will show whatever event is happening at the time.

“For a chef, it’s easy to get weird and funky,” Shook said. “One of the things we really try to keep in mind is out of the fans that come there, not everyone is going to be a chef. What are the items they are going to be looking for?”

Dotolo and Shook said they spent months working on R&D for menu items.

“One of the items that we were super stickler on was the chicken finger,” Shook said.