Global sports and entertainment company Oak View Group, in an effort to further disrupt business as usual in the live entertainment space, has tapped NBA Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal, Grammy and Emmy award-winning performer and best-selling cookbook author Trisha Yearwood, and New York Times best-selling author and successful restaurateur Giada De Laurentiis to bring their distinctive culinary styles to venues around the world and up the game on how guests experience food at sports and live events.
Launching today, the three culinarians will lead OVG’s new Hospitality Advisory Council, and work with OVG to help infuse new thinking, new ambition, and new social conscious into a concessions industry that rarely meets the spectacle or passion of the shows the industry supports. This trio of successful restaurateurs and globally revered personalities will be tasked with creative thinking around menu design and expansion, the elevation of premium fare, local food sourcing, and opportunities for community impact via MBE/WBE programs, sustainability, and animal welfare.
“I’m proud to serve Big Chicken at Oak View Group venues, and I’m excited to work alongside Giada, Trisha and OVG to help millions of fans see how great food can positively impact their gameday or concert experience,” O’Neal says.
“Food at live events – whether it be a sporting event, a concert, or a festival– should be fast, but speed shouldn’t be at the expense of taste and creativity,” De Laurentiis says. “We’ve proven that with Pronto by Giada at live events venues across the nation. And we’re going to show the industry our collective vision to transform arena food into something guests look forward to as part of their live event experience.”
“Home-cooking isn’t necessarily a style of cuisine you would typically associate with a concert or a sporting event,” Yearwood says, “but we’re going to show the industry that food and beverage at large events doesn’t have to be status quo. Whether it’s country or pop or heavy metal, we’ll work to surprise and delight guests so that they can’t wait to get back in the venue for another helping.”
OVG Hospitality, already the fastest growing hospitality company in the industry, now with over 350 client-partners, provides a unique platform for experimentation and delivery, given its wide diversity of venues, its commitment to community impact, and entrepreneurial DNA.
“When it comes to attending today’s biggest concerts, shows, and sporting events, appealing to fans’ evolving tastebuds and aligning unique or customized food and beverage offerings (think Watermelon Sugar offerings at a Harry Styles concert) is a significant, though often-underestimated piece of the live experience,” Ken Gaber, president of OVG Hospitality, says.
The three influencers will help shape the menus, culture and guest experience among OVG Hospitality managed venues. Already fans can find Shaq’s Big Chicken Sandwiches in several OVG-owned arenas including Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena and Baltimore’s new CFG Bank Arena. Look for Giada-inspired menu items in the beautiful new Acrisure Arena in Palm Springs, CA and UBS Arena in Belmont Park, NY. And Trisha Yearwood’s beloved comfort food recipes and family favorites will soon delight guests in Austin’s Moody Center at the University of Texas. OVG will roll out the branded concepts to more venues in the future.
“Trisha, Shaq, and Giada are successful restauranteurs, globally revered personalities, and unabashedly authentic in their approach to memorable cuisine,” Tim Leiweke, chairman and CEO of Oak View Group, says. “They know great food and we’re excited to infuse a dose of creativity, fun and personality – that ‘wow factor’ – into the food and beverage we serve at our venues across the globe.”
Oak View Group’s Hospitality division has grown exponentially since launching in February 2022. The division was created following OVG’s acquisition of Spectra in November 2021 and currently manages food and beverage operations at 356 venues across the world. Last year, OVG Hospitality also acquired Spectrum Catering, Concessions & Event Services, which expanded OVG’s reach into non-traditional areas such golf tournaments, music festivals and immersive experiences, and UK-based Bovingdons, which marked OVG’s official foray into international full-service hospitality.