Sports and live entertainment firm Oak View Group (OVG) has acquired Houston-based Spectrum Catering, Concessions & Event Services—a food service and hospitality company that specializes in major sporting events, music festivals, and artist and tour catering—to grow its OVG Hospitality division. The announcement comes eight months after OVG completed the acquisition of major venue management and hospitality firm Spectra, including its Spectra Food Services & Hospitality division, to create a leading full-service live events company.
Spectrum has overseen the food services and hospitality experience at major sporting events such as the PGA Tour, NCAA Final Four March Madness Festivals, US Davis Cup Tennis and large outdoor music events like Bonnaroo, Burning Man and Governor’s Ball, and have also worked with major acts like Cirque du Soleil, The Eagles, Madonna, Jimmy Buffett and Aerosmith.
The company was launched in 1992 by veteran restaurateur and current CEO David Smalley and was generating upwards of $100 million in sales in the U.S. and Canada before COVID hit in 2020, according to its website. The company includes the Wicked Whisk corporate catering division and Arizona Catering, which Smalley launched in 1986 to provide backstage catering services for traveling entertainers in venues across Arizona, Nevada and Southern California, and which has since expanded into catering services for weddings, corporate holiday parties and full concessions sales.
OVG was founded in 2015 and scored a major coup two years later when it was engaged by the city of Seattle to renovate KeyArena, which eventually opened as Climate Pledge Arena in fall 2021 as the home of the NHL expansion team the Seattle Kraken. It is also a partner with the NHL’s New York Islanders in UBS Arena on Long Island, which also opened last fall, and has also partnered with the University of Texas at Austin on its new 15,000-seat Moody Center basketball arena, which opened this past April. Earlier this year, OVG purchased 25 acres in Las Vegas to build a $3 billion sports/entertainment district that will include an NBA-ready 20,000-seat arena.
OVG Hospitality is headed by former Delaware North Sportservice Vice President Ken Gaber and serves more than 250,000 events and 40 million guests annually across North America, per its website. Last fall’s Spectra deal brought it Spectra Food Services & Hospitality’s presence in some 330 sports, entertainment and convention venues among its venue management, food service and corporate partnerships, including 135 foodservice operations concentrated primarily in Major League Soccer (MSL), college sports and Major League Baseball spring training venues. In its last year of pre-COVID operation (2019), Spectra Food Services & Hospitality had generated $445 million in revenues, according to its 2020 FM Top 50 filing for the year.
The OVG Hospitality unit’s services include not only concessions and catering but marketing/branding, facility design, restaurant/premium space management, procurement, alcohol services, corporate support and reopening consulting. Clients include stadiums, arenas, convention centers, casinos, performing arts centers, fairgrounds and specialized properties like festivals, recreation centers and zoos.
“The fact that Spectrum’s growth has been driven by referrals, word-of-mouth, reputation and top talent speaks to the stellar organization Dave Smalley has built over the last thirty years,” Gaber noted in announcing the deal. “After meeting Dave five years ago, I became a fast fan of his work. Bringing on the Spectrum team will allow OVG Hospitality to grow our business in non-traditional avenues.”
“Hard work and integrity are hallmarks of Spectrum’s successful operations – across the kitchen, dressing room and dining room – and it became clear very quickly in our initial discussions with Oak View Group that our teams would work seamlessly together,” Smalley added. “We have consistently delivered some of the highest per caps and the highest revenues of any concert concessions company, and we look forward to continuing those achievements with OVG Hospitality.”