SIOUX CITY | Sioux City plans to soon have the necessary contracts in place to transition management of two venues and its food services over to a Philadelphia-based firm at the start of next year.
City manager Bob Padmore told Sioux City's Events Facilities Advisory Board during a Friday meeting that he anticipates the city will have agreements with Spectra Venue Management in place by year's end to finalize the transition of management of food and beverage services and operations at the Tyson Events Center and Orpheum Theatre.
"Spectra's been on the ground in Sioux City almost constantly since the middle of November," Padmore said. "Our goal is to have everything done and in place so that everything flips over to Spectra Jan. 1."
Over the past few weeks, Spectra has been working through the hiring process, offering jobs to current employees and working through the on-boarding process. It has offered the position of general manager of the venues to current Events Facilities director Erika Newton, who said Friday she plans to accept the position.
Newton said that about 200 employees are in the process of transferring to either Spectra or to Kinseth Hospitality, the North Liberty, Iowa-based company taking over management of the Sioux City Convention Center, also on Jan. 1. Spectra has agreed to prioritize the hiring of current city employees.
To finalize the transition with Spectra, the Sioux City Council will consider two separate contracts over the next two weeks, Padmore said. The council will vote Monday on a food and beverage agreement and vote next week on a venue management agreement.
The contract up for a vote Monday will cover food and beverage services at the Tyson Events Center, Sioux Gateway Airport and IBP Ice Center. It must go into effect Jan. 1 because the city's contract with its current caterer, Centerplate, expires at the end of the year.
The Sioux City Convention Center's food services will fall under the separate management of Kinseth Hospitality Inc., which will on Jan. 1. also take over management of that city-owned venue as it prepares to begin construction on a brand-new adjoining hotel.
Centerplate employees are in the process of applying and receiving offers to work for either Spectra or Kinseth.
Pam Plageman, a regional vice president with Spectra, said the company is working through the on-boarding process with five current full-time food service employees and also met with 40 current part-time employees at a recent job fair about working with them. It is also receiving applications for a food and beverage general manager.
Representatives of Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska, will be assisting with the transition of food services, Plageman said.
Plageman said as part of its opening steps, Spectra will purchase Sioux City's existing concession inventory and gradually introduce new items at the various venues.
"It's going to be small, subtle changes," Plageman said. "It's not going to be a big 'push the green light and everything's different.' That will happen, but that's the 90 and 120-day plan."
Newton said she's excited that Spectra plans to bring more of a Sioux City feel into the venue.
"What Spectra is really doing is executing a strategy that we've really wanted to execute for a long time," she said. "Going out to local restaurateurs or local business owners and infuse more flavor into the Tyson Events Center, so that it feels more like a Sioux City experience."
Under the terms of the contract up for a vote Monday, the city will receive a percentage of gross revenue for sales at the venues. The commission includes the following percentages:
--Forty percent for all concession food sales up to $750,000 and 45.5 percent for all sales above $750,000.
--Thirty percent for all concession alcohol sales up to $500,000 and 35 percent for all sales above $500,000.
--Thirty percent on all catering sales up to $150,000 and 35 percent for all sales above $150,000.
--Ten percent of all off-premise catering sales.
--An amount to be decided on merchandise sales at Sioux Gateway Airport.
In addition, Spectra will invest $300,000 for design services, leasehold improvements and capital equipment for food and beverage services. Part of that will go toward upgrading the kitchen at the Tyson Events Center, Plageman said.
Sioux City began exploring private management as a way to reduce the annual subsidy paid by taxpayers to operate its venues. Spectra believes it can lower the city's subsidy by $500,000 in three years.
The 10,000-seat Tyson has been owned and run by the city since it opened in 2003. The Orpheum is independently owned and jointly operated with the city.
The council voted 4-0 on Oct. 16 to enter contract negotiations with Spectra, which runs Wells Fargo Center, home to the Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers, and Citizens Bank Park, home to the Philadelphia Phillies, following a long consideration of proposals that also included the Ames, Iowa-based management company VenuWorks and a comparison proposal from city staff to maintain city management.
The first event Spectra will have a hand in will be the CNOS Foundation Basketball Classic Jan. 4-6 at the Tyson.