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  #46   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 08-16-2006, 11:35 PM
CraigHickman
 
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

Our team has always smuggled our food in. It's as simple as putting the tools from a toolbox into the safeway bag, and the food into the toolbox. They never look in the toolbox, and always just see tools in the safeway bag. That way we eat healthy, and we don't have to leave the pit except during our lunch break.
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Unread 08-17-2006, 10:52 AM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

Every Venue is different but from the few I have worked in I'd like to give my perspective. Concessions income for an event is only second to ticket sales. In all the cases I experience two people got "points" or a percentage from concessions. Depending on the agreement the stadium would take a cut and the Concessions stand would get what was estimated to simply keep the stand running(pay wages, restock food, clean equipment, etc.). The Stands only ever turned a marginal profit and it was the Venue that walked away with the big bucks.


With an Event like FIRST Venues may be taking a hit. There are no ticket sales and It is seemingly apparent from this thread that FIRSTers aren't buying the burgers.

My solution would be to approach the venue to see if they have a contract with and outside caterer, for Weddings, Box Seats, etc. The company they contract to do this could be then used to prepare inexpensive generic food(Sandwiches and the like). The Venue would still get a cut, meet its contractual obligation to provide the food and we'd all eat better(and hopefully cheaper) for it.
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Unread 08-17-2006, 12:02 PM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noah Melamed
Every Venue is different but from the few I have worked in I'd like to give my perspective. Concessions income for an event is only second to ticket sales. In all the cases I experience two people got "points" or a percentage from concessions. Depending on the agreement the stadium would take a cut and the Concessions stand would get what was estimated to simply keep the stand running(pay wages, restock food, clean equipment, etc.). The Stands only ever turned a marginal profit and it was the Venue that walked away with the big bucks.


With an Event like FIRST Venues may be taking a hit. There are no ticket sales and It is seemingly apparent from this thread that FIRSTers aren't buying the burgers.

My solution would be to approach the venue to see if they have a contract with and outside caterer, for Weddings, Box Seats, etc. The company they contract to do this could be then used to prepare inexpensive generic food(Sandwiches and the like). The Venue would still get a cut, meet its contractual obligation to provide the food and we'd all eat better(and hopefully cheaper) for it.
As a member of the Southern California Regional Committee, I can assure you that the venues are not "taking a hit". We pay them rent for the time we are there. Some venues, like those at a University, may "donate" the time or give us a reduced rate, but they decide what they can afford and FIRST pays it.

The concession question is more difficult. Generally the concessions are locked in by contract with the venue. They are set up to deliver a limited number of food items. Expanding their menu just for us would be difficult.

Some venues might have a separate contract for catering. However these can also be difficult to work with. Here in LA I know we tried to work with the designated caterer to set up pre-paid lunches and they basically no-bid the contract. But since they had an exclusive contract with the venue, we couldn't give the business to anybody else either.

Event food is one of the hardest issues to work, not due to any inherent difficulty, but because of the maze of conflicting interests associated with it. Generally we tell teams that if you don't like what is there, bring your own and eat it in the parking lot. We also provide information on local restaurants in our Visitor Guide. For your after hours dinning pleasure of course
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Unread 08-17-2006, 04:02 PM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

Okay. I've been avoiding this thread because, frankly, it's silly.

FIRST has this rule because the vast majority of venues have vendor lock-in contracts for their concessions. They're more or less forced into this by the companies to be able to offer any food at all. FIRST can't do anything about this at all except find a venue without this. I don't want to have a competition in a high school gym, so I put up with this. To sanddrag, this goes for parking too. If you don't like it, I reccomend you trim your team's budget to donate to FIRST the several thousand dollars it'd take to make the problem go away.

Many regionals are already operating on tight budgets and get discounted rates from the venues. Reliant Arena accomodates the LSR machine shop in extra space in one of the large halls. We get that space through the venue's generosity and good will and because we don't use much space. When teams decided to paint in there, work on robots in there, and otherwise set up camp, they had to be kicked out. Yes there was lots of space, yes it wasn't exactly nice, but deal with it. Your only other option is to pony up a heck of a lot of money that it would cost to rent that hall for the weekend.

The same goes for food, parking, and probably whatever else annoys you at an event. Feel free to voice your concerns to the regional committee, but please follow the rules. ALL the rules in the FIRST manual are there for good reasons, including this one. I fail to see how everyone here can accept venue rules like no soldering, no grinding, no noisemakers, and no saving seats, but completely reject the no food rule. ALL of these rules are to keep the venue happy. Parking and food are just two more things that do so. All of these rules are to keep the venues happy with us, which is rather important. Unhappy venues mean higher costs, and higher registration fees for all teams. Do whatever you must to survive within the rules, but please stay within the rules. I can guarantee you that one of the main reasons FIRST had to put this in the official rules was simply because so many teams were already ignoring the instructions from the people at the events.

To further flaunt this rule will only make things worse, and discussing underhanded ways of smuggling food into a venue, cheating your way into free parking and otherwise completely ignoring the rules of FIRST and all the values we're supposed to be upholding should be beneath us and is frankly embarrassing.
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Unread 08-17-2006, 11:38 PM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

Also, in the interests of full disclosure, my girlfriend is a celiac and thus can't have anything with wheat, barley, oats, or rye in it without becoming very ill. This means about all she can have at a competition is Dippin' Dots and juice or sodas. So we talk with the regional directors to get special permission to bring in a FEW snacks for her and still make the usual arrangements for lunch in the parking lot that goes for the whole team. Always better to work with the system.

Plus, like Billfred said, you can always bring in a water bottle for hydration. As I recall, FIRST very specifically allowed this.
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Unread 08-18-2006, 07:13 AM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Sevcik
Also, in the interests of full disclosure, my girlfriend is a celiac and thus can't have anything with wheat, barley, oats, or rye in it without becoming very ill. This means about all she can have at a competition is Dippin' Dots and juice or sodas. So we talk with the regional directors to get special permission to bring in a FEW snacks for her and still make the usual arrangements for lunch in the parking lot that goes for the whole team. Always better to work with the system.
this is the heart of the matter with food and venues. What and when and how you eat is a very personal thing. You should not have to explain medical conditions or personal information to anyone to get permission to eat a candy bar, or to snack on carrot sticks or whatever.

Food and drink are one step away from breathing the air. For anyone to place restrictions on people because your are 'in our venue' is not right. Esp when you are there for 10 hours a day.
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Unread 08-18-2006, 07:23 AM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

Somehow I don't think venue vendors need to charge $3.00 for a hot dog to make a profit on said hot dog. If you do, then you RUN A VERY BAD BUSINESS.

I'd hope these venues would stop being so greedy, recognize the relatively empty wallets of the majority of the youthful participants at a FIRST event, and lower prices at their food stands accordingly. Either that, or be creative in finding ways to bring cheaper meals to participants (catered prepaid lunches at GTR). Ya ya it's their venue and their contract, but WHO CARES? If you want your monopoly, fine, but don't penalize the thousands of kids visiting your arena who don't have that kind of money to spend on food every day. Basically, stop being such capitalist pigs, get into the spirit of FIRST, and lower your prices to REALISTIC levels. Maybe then, you wouldn't have so many teams trying to do an end around all your greed. If you're so dang worried about losing money on a few high school students, then go right ahead and jack up the costs for the people going to the next monster truck rally or Mariah Carey concert.

OR.....regionals can do it like Boilermaker, tell the big venues to take a hike, and have a multitude of vendors bid on food service contracts so the REGIONAL calls all the shots, not the corporations controlling the arena venues. Let's have more regionals on college and university campuses and get those colleges and universities directly involved - bring the future engineers of America directly to the institutions that will mold and shape them into productive members of society. But we've got to have FIRST on TV some day (right?), so does having events in "big league sports" arenas somehow validate our program and prove it is "worthy" of being televised? Are we kissing up to big media, too? Are journalists and reporters above driving to a boring old college campus to cover our "non-mainstream" activities? I digress....

All that being said, instead of circumventing the rules, let's live within them. Take the high road, and your character cannot be questioned. You could take the extreme route by boycotting the venues' steep prices and waiting to eat later. I venture to guess that most people would "survive" until then. You may be really freakin hungry, but you'll deal. Drink a lot of water. Or have someone order food for the team elsewhere and go across the street to eat it (or eat it outside the venue on venue property if they permit such "dastardly" deeds). Or buy the absolute cheapest thing on the menu to get you by until later on. Don't give these people the pleasure of making excessive profits at the expense of those who shouldn't be paying that much to eat a basic (and usually poor quality) meal.

Kevin mentioned that venues sometimes offer discounted rates to the regional committees to have access to the arenas for the competition weekend. I wonder if the venues think that charging high prices for food is one way to attempt to recover the revenues lost from being so "magnanimous". Some discount, huh? If so, are we shifting the cost burden away from the regional committees and onto the shoulders of a group of people mainly comprised of high school students? Is that a good thing? I suppose if it was the difference between having a regional and not having one, it's worth it, but it's still disappointing that there aren't additional corporate and private sponsors out there willing to donate resources to an event to make it more affordable for all.
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Last edited by Travis Hoffman : 08-18-2006 at 08:06 AM.
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Unread 08-18-2006, 08:50 AM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

you know what we need? A FIRST competition that is played outdoors!

In a park, or on a beach, in the woods, on a blocked off city street (u)
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Unread 08-18-2006, 11:30 AM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
you know what we need? A FIRST competition that is played outdoors!

In a park, or on a beach, in the woods, on a blocked off city street (u)
Oh yeah, instead of shooting poofballs, we get to shoot snowballs???
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Unread 08-18-2006, 01:33 PM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

Quote:
Originally Posted by T. Hoffman
I'd hope these venues would stop being so greedy, recognize the relatively empty wallets of the majority of the youthful participants at a FIRST event, and lower prices at their food stands accordingly.
...

Kevin mentioned that venues sometimes offer discounted rates to the regional committees to have access to the arenas for the competition weekend. I wonder if the venues think that charging high prices for food is one way to attempt to recover the revenues lost from being so "magnanimous". Some discount, huh?
Please, please, please, please, please stop making this mistake. It's been said several times here, and I'll repeat it with some justifications. The venues make NO money off of concessions or catering. They make a contract with a vendor and the vendor provides the food and makes the profits. Reliant makes no profit from: providing power outlets, audio visual equipment, table rentals, catered food, or concessions. They are not in that business. It doesn't make one lick of sense to think they are. I have seen the bills and they go straight from the regional to Aramark, Harper Wood, etc. The venues have land and a building, and they rent it out to people. They are not in the business of wiring outlets, setting up projectors, or frying chicken.
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Unread 08-18-2006, 01:58 PM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

I ahve to agree with Kevin and this could easily be another thread where we can discuss the relative ways a vendor must claculate cost and profit. However, for the record, a vendor pays for all the hardware reguired to produce and dispense the food, the payroll for the people behind the counter and likely rent from the venue for the space. For a normal business they can amortize those costs over the hours that they are open. A hot dog stand near my house is open from 10:00 AM to 8 PM everyday. That is considerably more than 8 hours once or twice a week in which to garner the same profit. Even at the cost of $4 for a hotdog, I bet the stand does not start turning a profit until it has been selling as fast as it can for 6 hours. It is only those last two hours in which it actually makes any money. Knowing the way regionals work, I am sure the vendors are happy to get three days of sales at less than a full house vs. only 8 hours at a full house.
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Unread 08-18-2006, 03:05 PM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

First of all the venues do make revenue from the sales. Part of the contract that is bid on gives a percentage of sales to the venue. The better the % the better chance of winning the contract. The high the % the more they charge so that the vendor can make a profit.

I have not notice a difference in price for any event at the venue. Hockey, FIRST, Lacrosse, Concert, they all have the same concession prices and food. People gripe at all of the above but they still must choose. To Buy or not to Buy, that is the question. Whether it is .....

I ramble sometimes. FIRST spends a lot of effort to get the best venue for the best price so that we can all have a great experience. I hope that they continue with this excellence and are able to improve what is already a great event.
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Unread 08-18-2006, 04:07 PM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

With all due respect to all of you, ranting about rebellion, sharing your trade secrets, and criticzing the venue system will not change yesterday's prices or make this competition season's prices any more affordable. Though FIRST officials and industry professionals may read Chief Delphi, I somehow doubt that Venue representatives do.

Multiple people have suggested contacting your regional committee, forming team support systems to provide packed lunches in the parking lots, and raising your voice in a productive manner. Why not give it a try? It will free up that crucial space in your trailer taken up by that trailer of food, at least.
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Unread 08-20-2006, 10:58 AM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

Come to Chesapeake.

You can bring in any and all food into the pits. Bring those coolers. Teams set up assembly lines of food. You can have pizza delivered. You can eat in the pits. Sure, it's cosy, but you can walk outdoors and have probably the best view at any regional event eg, the Severn River on the Chesapeake Bay. You may not eat in the stands, because it is harder for those of us who stay until the very end on Sat. to clean up.

You can order a reasonably priced and convenient box lunch.

You can buy hot dogs and soda from a small cart. It is convenient.

You can visit the DryDock restaurant on the Academy. Gets crowded with all the visitors there during the competition, but it is reasonably priced and close.

You can walk 5 minutes out Gate 1 and to the City Dock area of historical and scenic Annapolis. No fast food places, but plenty of sandwiches.
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Unread 08-20-2006, 12:10 PM
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Re: Bringing Food into Competition Venues

RoboMom has opened the door to a new era in FIRST.

If some venues will allow teams to bring in food, and other will not - guess which regional I am going to recommend to the team next year when its time to choose?

Vote with your regional fees! (i)
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