NEW DAY: Levy was Footprint Center’s previous food and beverage provider. (Courtesy venue)

New F&B Partner named as competition in desert heats up

The Phoenix Suns have selected Oak View Group Hospitality to run food and beverage operations at Footprint Center, the home of the NBA team and the WNBA Phoenix Mercury, supplanting Levy.

Chris Granger

Terms of the multiyear deal, OVG Hospitality’s first with an NBA venue, were not disclosed. In  addition to Suns and Mercury home games, the partnership covers concerts and other live events at the 17,000-capacity arena, which opened in 1992 and has had several naming rights sponsors over the years.

The move comes as competition heats up in the Valley of the Sun, where Desert Diamond Arena in nearby Glendale has gone without a pro sports tenant since icing out the NHL Arizona Coyotes two years ago, but has done bang-up concert and live events business.

Ken Gaber

“Layer a new owner on top of that, too, and a new CEO, who have their own ambitions and their own entrepreneurial spirits, and you have a highly competitive marketplace,” said Chris Granger, CEO of OVG360, the company’s full-service venue management division.

“It changes the dynamic, what they’re looking for in a partner, which is why I think we were probably successful there at the end, because at the end of the day, it wasn’t just about, ‘Hey, we can help with your food and beverage business.’ It’s, ‘We can help you with your business. It includes food and beverage, but we can help you with premium, we can help you with booking in a competitive landscape, we can help you with sustainability, which we know matters to your naming rights partner.’”

OVG, parent company of VenuesNow, promises to enhance the food and beverage experience on all levels of the arena, from clubs and suites to the main concourse. OVG recently acquired high-end hospitality and catering company Rhubarb Hospitality Collection, which will handle the venue’s clubs and suites.

Ken Gaber, president of OVG Hospitality, said bringing technology that will streamline operations and speed of service is another aspect of what the company brings to the table.

“I think food and beverage broadly is a massive opportunity right now, generally speaking,” he said. “Owner-operators are looking for a breath of fresh air and to the extent that we can come in and offer something a bit different than what everyone else is doing, I think that’s our opportunity.”