In a coming together of unlikely partners, the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, two of the strongest brands in the American sports pantheon, have joined Wall Street's legendary investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Dallas-based private equity firm CIC Partners to form a food and retail company.
The company, Legends Hospitality Management, will offer a broad range of sports business services with an initial focus on operating catering, concessions, retail merchandising and other facility management enterprises for major sports and entertainment facilities.
Former Pizza Hut president Michael Rowlings has been selected to lead the new enterpriseas chairman & CEO.
The Yankees are the most successful franchise in American baseball history, having won a record 26 World Series titles. The franchise also spends the most money on players, with a $209 million opening-day payroll this season, its 10th straight year leading the league. Forbes magazine values the Yankees at $1.3 billion, the most of baseball's 30 teams.
Dallas Cowboys earned the name ''America's Team'' while winning five Super Bowl American football championships with Hall of Fame players such as Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett. Forbes magazine valued the team at a league-best $1.6 billion in 2008.
Legends has been granted the exclusive right to operate concessions, catering and merchandising services at the new, state-of-the-art Yankees and Cowboys stadiums, worth $1.3 billion and $1.1 billion each, on a multi-year basis. Legends intend to expand beyond these anchor teams to provide its services to professional and college sports teams and other event facilities worldwide.
''I know firsthand that when the Yankees put their name on something, they feel just like the Dallas Cowboys do,'' Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said at a news conference in New York. ''There is no swinging and striking out here. It's got to work, and consequently you are going to put every ounce of every resource you can into making it very, very successful.''
George M Steinbrenner, chairman of the New York Yankees, said, ''This partnership brings together two of the finest sports franchises and creates a business that will take advantage of their tremendous insight and expertise…With both the Yankees and the Cowboys moving into new stadiums next season, this is certainly the right time to rethink our approach. Beyond that base, we are confident that other facilities and teams will be interested in what Legends can offer. I look forward to building a business with Jerry.''
The Yankees and Cowboys, already the most valuable franchises in professional baseball and football, are looking to expand their businesses by using Legends to provide ''high- quality'' concessions for their fans and those of other professional and college sports teams.
Rawlings, Chairman & CEO of Legends, added ''Quality is the hallmark of the Legends brand, and I am confident that the team of experienced professionals we have assembled will set the highest standards of quality and service in the industry. We are thrilled to be partnering with the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys - two teams with reputations for innovation and value creation - as we create a new paradigm in sports concessions that will deliver unparalleled and affordable stadium experiences for fans.''
Legends, which will be headquartered in Newark, New Jersey, will be led by a management team comprising of Marty Greenspun as President and Daniel Smith as Chief Operating Officer. Its Board of Directors will initially be comprised of 10 members, including representatives from the Yankees, the Cowboys, Goldman Sachs and CIC Partners.
Rawlings outlined his vision for the company: ''Our mission at Legends is simple. We want to become the authority on fan experience so that we can provide team and stadium owners, athletic directors and venue operators with innovative ways to build business value for their sports franchises off the playing field. While we'll leverage the experience of our leadership team and the Yankees and Cowboys organizations, we also fully intend to broaden and deepen our capabilities in the coming years through a combination of acquisitions, strategic partnerships and continued internal growth.''