Levy replaces Delaware North Sportservice as the food provider at 24-year-old Bank of America Stadium. (Don Muret/Staff)

Levy adds fourth Charlotte sports venue to its portfolio

Bank of America Stadium is going through major upgrades to accommodate the Carolina Panthers and an MLS expansion team. The teams’ newest move has Levy taking over the venue’s food service.

Chicago-based Levy replaces Delaware North Sportservice, which ran the NFL team’s food and retail for the past 10 seasons. Legends and Fanatics are competing for the stadium’s merchandise operation, sources said, but at this point, it’s unclear which company will manage that piece of the business.

Rick Abramson, Delaware North’s chief customer officer, confirmed the switch in food vendors. Abramson was principally involved in Sportservice signing its agreement in early 2010 with the Panthers under their old owner, Jerry Richardson. David Tepper acquired the Panthers in July 2018. 

Panthers President Tom Glick did not return emails for comment.

“We do not have anything to share at this time,” team spokesman Ryan Anderson said.

Alison Weber, Levy’s chief creative officer, did not return a text for comment.

Levy has a strong presence in Charlotte. Compass Group, Levy’s parent firm and the world’s largest food service provider with $32 billion in annual revenue in fiscal 2019, has its North American headquarters in Charlotte.

In addition, Levy runs the food at Spectrum Center, home of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, and Charlotte Motor Speedway. Professional Sports Catering, a Levy subsidiary, runs the food at BB&T Ballpark, where minor league baseball’s Charlotte Knights play. 

“Compass’ offices are in Charlotte and they have a suite at the Panthers’ stadium,” Abramson said. “It’s disappointing because I did that deal. But I wish them all the luck in the world.”

The switch in food vendors marks the third change in concessions and premium catering operators since Bank of America Stadium opened in 1996. Volume Services, now Centerplate, was the facility’s original concessionaire before the Panthers took the business in-house under Stadium Food & Beverage in the late 1990s.

Sportservice took over food and retail for the 2010 season. Over the past decade, the Buffalo company invested in multiple upgrades at Bank of America Stadium, including a revamp of the team store and new food service equipment for the suites, plus self-serve technology tied to soda dispensers and retail lockers for online customers to pick up their items.

Levy officially takes over in April and is advertising part-time positions on its website and on careerbuilder.com. Billy Joel is scheduled to play at the stadium April 18, the first of four concerts scheduled there in 2020.

Tepper Sports and Entertainment, the operating entity for the Panthers and MLS Charlotte, has also booked Garth Brooks (May 2), the Rolling Stones (July 1) and a heavy metal package headlined by Motley Crue (July 11).

The Stones last played Bank of America Stadium in 1997 and the show will be their first appearance in Charlotte since an arena concert in October 2005.

The stadium itself is going through a bunker suite retrofit in the west end zone along with improvements for the MLS team, which starts play in 2021.

For Levy, the Panthers’ facility is its eighth NFL food account. It also has Allegiant Stadium, the Las Vegas Raiders’ $2 billion venue opening this year.

This story has been updated since it was originally published.