Learfield Levy Foodservice, which has operated concessions for the University of Wisconsin athletic department since 2013, has taken over the program's entire food and beverage operation.
The UW Board of Regents executive committee last week approved a five-year contract with the Chicago-based company to continue managing concessions operations for Badgers sports facilities and add responsibilities for catering and team meals.
Until now, the school had run its own catering business to feed student-athletes and to serve food and drinks in premium seating areas and at University Ridge Golf Course.
A bidding process yielded two qualified contenders for the contract, Learfield Levy and Sodexo.
An evaluation committee recommended Learfield Levy's plan, and the Regents' executive committee approved the contract on March 25. It went into effect on Monday.
UW officials have not yet provided a copy of the contract between the school and Learfield Levy through an open-records request, but highlights included in a Board of Regents meeting synopsis and in the company's bid include:
• A projected commission to UW of $19.1 million over the initial, five-year deal.
• $750,000 in capital improvements to UW facilities, plus $100,000 per year for each year beyond the fifth that the contract is extended.
• Continued opportunities for nonprofit organizations to raise money by staffing concession stands.
Learfield Levy's bid for the contract projected annual sales of more than $10.3 million between concessions and catering, up 7% over 2018.
The company's best and final offer provides UW with commissions on annual sales, including 18 percent of receipts from catering and University Ridge. UW gets 50 percent of concessions sales if the yearly total is $3.8 million or less, or 52 percent if higher.
UW will pay Learfield Levy for team meals at cost plus 5 percent, with a yearly budget of $1.5 million. The athletic department serves more than 114,000 athlete meals per year to a group of more than 800 individuals.
Sodexo's bid included two ranges of commissions. One, with a $2.5 million capital investment, was from 20% to 40%, based on concessions sales. The other had a $500,000 capital investment and commissions of between 23% and 43%.
UW has had a business relationship with Learfield since 1993, when the Jefferson City, Missouri, company signed a deal for radio rights to Badgers football and men's basketball games. The company now known as Learfield IMG College manages multimedia rights and sells sponsorship openings for UW under the Badger Sports Properties moniker.
In 2013, Learfield Levy, a partnership between the marketing firm and concessions provider Levy Restaurants, was selected through a bidding process to take over concessions operations at UW facilities. The National W Club had been in charge since 1962.
The initial concessions contract with Learfield Levy was for five years with a series of one-year options. Midway through the first of those options, in January, UW solicited bids for the athletic department's entire food and beverage operation.
Putting the entire package with one vendor was a move to synergize service and products throughout, UW senior associate athletic director Justin Doherty said in January.
Under terms of the bidding process, Learfield Levy committed to hiring any university employees who were interested in continuing to work in athletics food service.
Representatives of UW and Learfield Levy did not return messages seeking comment.