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Centerplate Kicks Off New Football Season, Adhering to New Safety Protocols in Welcoming Fans Back to Stadiums

September 16, 2020

Leveraging global network of Sodexo expertise, the team is prepared to implement stringent foodservice protocols

Miami, Fla. and Indianapolis, Ind. (September 17, 2020) – Today, Centerplate, the leading hospitality partner to North America's premier sports entertainment venues, announced new safety and fan experience protocols for hospitality service for the new NFL season. Centerplate will welcome fans in-person at the home opener this Sunday for the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium and Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The excitement of the game will be the same, but many aspects of the gameday experience in-stadium will be adjusted, in lockstep with venue partners and local public health officials. The health and safety of employees and guests remains the top priority. The new protocols are in place to help everyone feel confident, safe and comfortable when coming to these stadiums to enjoy a seamless experience.

“Our goal is to provide the finest fan experience in the safest environment possible,” said Steve Pangburn, CEO, Centerplate / Sodexo Sports & Leisure North America. “From a business standpoint, we are happy that two of our client venues – Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis – are among the handful of stadiums that will have fans at their first home game. We are hopeful that, as the season progresses, we will also have the chance to welcome fans in some capacity to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.”

The Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium will allow maximum of 13,000 fans at the first regular season home game this Sunday when the Dolphins face the Buffalo Bills. The organization conducted a thorough review starting in late March of the fan experience with the intent to provide minimal contact for guests. The venue also was the first sports facility in North America to receive the esteemed GBAC Star accreditation, and will feature a new online order-ahead food & beverage app with distinct pickup-only locations in the stadium.

The Indianapolis Colts will host a maximum of 2,500 attendees at Lucas Oil Stadium for the team's home opener on Sunday versus the Minnesota Vikings. The attendance number was determined following discussions with the Marion County Public Health Department and were set to meet local, NFL, and CDC guidelines to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Among the specific changes to the food and beverage programs:

  • Elimination of cash to reduce contact
  • Elimination of condiment stands on the concourse
  • Elimination of vendors walking up and down aisles
  • Gloves and masks required for all food-service employees
  • Social distance markings to encourage and promote distancing guidelines in common areas
  • No buffets; pre-packaged items in all-inclusive clubs

"When we started the process back in March of exploring what a socially-distanced stadium could look like, we made the health and safety of everyone the first priority; knowing that if we felt that we couldn't make it safe, we simply wouldn't have fans," said Miami Dolphins Vice Chairman and CEO Tom Garfinkel. "We're happy that our elected officials recognize the attention to detail and diligence that we've put into creating a safe environment and that they made the decision to move forward with a 13,000-capacity stadium at this time."

"Our top priority always will be the health and safety of fans, players and staff, so we must take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe, which includes a reduced stadium capacity on gameday," said Pete Ward, Colts Chief Operating Officer. "We will continue to work with local health officials on steps that will allow our season to go on as safely as possible with fans in the stands. And we continue to appreciate the patience of all our fans as we navigate the fluid nature of this pandemic."

“We have leaned immensely on our global network of Sodexo experts to implement new safety protocols. In fact, Sodexo and Centerplate have created a systematic and comprehensive approach – Rise – to help venues of all shapes and sizes prepare for and implement changes to their daily operations. This bespoke program prioritizes safety and well-being above all else,” Pangburn added.

About Centerplate

Centerplate is a leader in live event hospitality, "Making It Better To Be There®" for more than 115 million guests each year at more than 200 prominent entertainment, sports and convention venues—including Hard Rock Stadium and the Miami Beach Convention Center. From hosting VIPs at the Super Bowl to superheroes at Comic Con, the company provides hospitality services to North America's premier events. A Sodexo company, Centerplate creates unique, locally-inspired menus, best-in-class guest service, and one-of-a-kind experiences backed by world-class design and insights teams. Visit the company online, connect via Twitter @centerplate, Instagram @Centerplate_ or Facebook.com/centerplate.

Media Contact

Paul Pettas, Communications Director, Centerplate / Sodexo Sports & Leisure Paul.pettas@centerplate.com

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