New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome, with Smoothie King Center at right, recently announced a $450 million renovation. (Courtesy Centerplate)

Two years plus options at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Smoothie King Center

Centerplate has reupped its hospitality contract with New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Smoothie King Center. Centerplate has been with both buildings since 1999.

The Superdome, home of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, has launched a massive $450 million renovation, the first major upgrade for the property since the repairs that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Additions will include a new large kitchen and food-service area in a space currently being used for parking.

“There was no RFP required for this purpose,” said Steve Trotter, Centerplate’s regional vice president. “We have a great working relationship with our clients. We had a chat, made a deal, and we remain.”

Great relationship indeed. In an annual evaluation of all 32 NFL teams, conducted by the League Observation Program and third-party audits, the Saints placed No. 1 in overall game-day satisfaction, the second consecutive year that the team took the top spot.

Centerplate has been at Smoothie King Center since it opened in 1999.

The extension is for two years with options built in. Trotter said the deal was specifically laid out with the relatively short two-year window because Centerplate wanted to have flexibility.

“We’re making so many changes that we want to give ourselves flexibility as we work through them all,” he said. “It will be a fluid situation as we move through the master plan of the renovation. We’re constantly adding and making adjustments.”

While there are no concrete plans yet to change the menu at the stadium following the renovation, Trotter said Centerplate is working on improving the menus at both venues by adding more choices.

New Orleans brands such as Dixie Beer and Zatarain’s are in the food and beverage stands, and Trotter sees more local flavor coming to the facilities. The venues use locally grown produce and local suppliers.

“We want to bring the community inside with local flavor that is part of the iconic nature of New Orleans,” Trotter said. “This city is a culinary destination for a lot of people, so we’re looking to introduce a better mix of great stadium fare and local items. We want a great balance. Everyone who is looking for something will find something they like.”

Kernell Jupiter is the general manager for Centerplate at both venues, which are managed by SMG.

“As we continue to transform these venues into premier entertainment destinations and leaders in guest services, we are happy to continue working with Centerplate as our exclusive hospitality partner,” Alan Freeman, SMG’s general manager at the Superdome, said in a statement. “In the seasons ahead, fans can look forward to Centerplate’s upgrades to technology and menus. Working with the Centerplate team, we are dedicated to providing a more seamless food service experience for our fans.”

The tenant team at Smoothie King Center is the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, who made headlines and excited their fans earlier in May by winning the first pick in June’s draft, giving them the opportunity to take Duke star Zion Williamson.

The 2020 NCAA Women’s Final Four will be played at the arena and the 2022 NCAA Men’s Final Four at the Superdome, which will also play host to the 2020 College Football Playoff title game and the Super Bowl in 2024.