N.S. schools looks to partner with WWIS for concession management, indoor sports venue

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – With high school sports games set to begin in the coming weeks, the North Smithfield School Committee has approved a short-term vendor agreement to get the new concession stand by the athletic fields up and running.

And the district is negotiating a possible long-term contract with town-based business Wide World of Indoor Sports to provide not only concessions, but also a long list of services that includes a shared facility agreement, providing a potential alternative venue for student sports teams in the case of inclement weather.

The committee unanimously approved a 45-day contract for concessions with Cagney’s Food Service at their meeting on Tuesday, August 16, also authorizing Supt. Michael St. Jean to negotiate an agreement with WWIS as the, “sole provider,” for longer term multiple field-related needs.

“We don’t have a lot of time until that field is starting to be used for games, and we don’t have anything in place for food services and concessions,” St. Jean told the committee in his pitch for the short-term vendor.

Cagney’s, St. Jean noted, currently operates concessions at WWIS, a privately-owned Pound Hill Road sports center, and has numerous contracts with other private and municipal clients. The Cranston-based food service vendor was approved to help the district start off the school year, while school officials negotiate a more permanent arrangement with WWIS.

The superintendent said the potential partnership with the town-based business came about because the district has been looking for a company to serve as manager for the recently refurbished track and turf field, and handle billing, rentals, scheduling, video streaming and more.

“We would also like that company to be able to provide concession service along with staffing, point of sale,” he said. “We cannot find anybody that can offer everything that we’re looking for under one umbrella.”

Opened in 2010, Wide World of Indoor sports hosts fields suited for soccer, lacrosse, flag football, baseball, softball, girls field hockey, volleyball, Wiffle Ball and more for youth and adult leagues. The business, owned by Dan Fawcett, also has a second location in North Kingstown opened in 2012.

The stand, built by Green Development, LLC, were recently dubbed complete in a collaboration with that privately-owned solar company to provide a structure that also offers bathroom facilities.

“It would be no cost to the district,” St. Jean said of the potential partnership. “In fact, it would be revenue-generating. They would like to partner with us. We would like to partner with them.”

In a vote on Tuesday, committee members designated WWIS as the “sole provider,” of the needed field services, a phrase that provides legal means around the competitive bidding process when only one appropriate partner exists for a given contract.

School Committee Chairman James Lombardi recused himself from the vote, later telling NRI NOW that his son plays soccer at the venue, and that while that is likely not a conflict he, “wanted to be cautious.”

“We cannot find anybody that offers this full set of services,” St. Jean said. “It will help us generate revenue from the fields. If we’re parsing this out to all these different vendors than we don’t have that profit share in place.”

St. Jean said that once negotiated, the complete agreement will come back before the School Committee for final approval.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. So let me get this straight
    Bill and Mike you are upset bc the school district is subbing this out, allowing the parents of the players and the students to watch the games and cheer for a family member or did you two just volunteer to work the concession stand and continue your comedy act like Statler and Waldorf from the muppets.

    • The article discussed the school’s department desire to sub out the management of all the athletic facilities to a single company. It involves much more than just operating the concession stand. If you read my reply to Mr. Guertin, you’ll understand what my concerns are because you do not seem to have it straight. My reply to Mr. Guertin was follows:
      Unlike you Mr. Guertin, I like to consider the pros and cons of new ventures before jumping onboard. I really would like to know if other districts have tried this and what the results were. I’d like to know if it was profitable (and to what degree) or did it end up costing the district more in the long run. Perhaps renting the field excessively shortened the life of the field. I’d like to know if there were non-monetary costs such as decreasing opportunities for town recreational leagues to make use of the fields, because the managing entity was looking to make a greater profit by giving prime time spots to “paying” teams. I’d like to know if any district hired a management company by bundling all tasks into one package and if they found themselves satisfied with the marketing program but disappointed in the quality of the food. If you watch the last School Committee meeting you’ll see there were very few questions asked before the vote. Debate is healthy Mr. Guertin and should be encouraged, but you seem to always consider it as “negativity”, and now you refer to it as “sucking all the fun out of life”.

      • Well all I can say is I hope you win your election and someone sits behind their computer screen and knit picks everything you say and do

        • And all I can say Rob is that I hope some day you have enough confidence in yourself to use your full name when you post comments.

  2. Why is this town so obsessed with catering to the athletes? How many students have gone on to play professionally? I’m going to guess and say none. Stop wasting the taxpayers’ money!

    • So you think the only reason to invest in sports is to have our athletes play professionally? Only about 7% of HS athletes go on to play variety sports in college and less than 2% play for Division I. The likelihood of our athletes going on to play professionally is slim to none. Do you think we spend endless hours at track meets, hockey games and Unified Sports because we think our kids will play professionally? Our kids participate in sports to prepare those kids for obstacles that lie ahead. These athletes learn to balance their time between academics and athletics, social skills, respect, teamwork, and dedication just to name a few. It teaches our kids about wins and losses….that hard work pays off….that they get what they put in. Friendships and bonds are formed throughout the seasons and they learn to persevere in the face of adversity. It gives them strength and self confidence. It is so much more than just playing a game…. But I’m gonna guess you weren’t an athlete….sorry not sorry

      • Actually I was an athlete in elementary school through high school. In NS.
        I never said sports aren’t important. My point is why does everything need to be over the top? Can’t decent fields and concession stands be built less costly?

        We’re all adults here, let’s speak to each other that way.

  3. Wow. I have so much to say about this. NO is my first thing. This is a school turf that was installed many years ago as a cost saving measure not having to mow and fertilize etc and to allow more of NS teams the opportunity to play on a turf field. Now, once again on the tax payers dime it has been redone (as what needs to happen with turf fields) however, WWIS has there own facility. If there is inclement weather and practice can’t take place then practice is cancelled very simple. It is what it is. This is NS we do not have very many athletes who go on to play in top D1 schools getting full rides and that’s ok. We have great sports teams but a cancelled practice here and there isn’t going to be detrimental. Having excessive use of the turf is going to break it down faster and the need for repairs will be greater. When will townspeople be able to use the track to walk or the turf field for training and conditioning? We paid for it, we should be able to use it. Will there be EMS at events run by WWIS? Will it be town personnel that will leave town resources from our police and fire departments even more short staffed then they already are? Who is going to be on hand to be sure there is no gum use or spitting of sunflower seeds, etc. This brings me to our athletic director. It is my understanding that our athletic director receives a full-time teaching salary although he doesn’t have a full-time teaching schedule, he has an AD block, an intern block, a duty and a prep. So out of a 7 period day schedule how many classes does he teach 3?? Maybe 4??? Okay BUT he also earns a $10,000 stipend for being athletic director. Wouldn’t that be double dipping? So what does this stipend cover. He is not at ALL home contests. Oh no, we pay additional personal to be home events managers for that. Under this proposed contract with WWIS he won’t be scheduling all the contests on the turf so how will conflicts be prevented. If the AD is only scheduling school use and WWIS is scheduling their use what happens when a school event is rained or snowed out? It will need to be rescheduled. That will become a scheduling nightmare if WWIS is already scheduled. Additionally, the AD has at least two interns and now there is an assistant athletic director being paid an additional stipend of around $5500. (From what I understand others who applied had more experience and seniority within the district and we’re passed over – no disrespect to the new assistant AD) The assistant AD is also a teacher so will this person’s teaching load be reduced as well? Now, as far as this concession stand goes, why would we want to split the profit with anyone on that? There is a concession stand at Pacheco that is run by volunteers why can’t this be run the same way. Students need community service hours, booster clubs can help, parents can help. Again, this is not a professional stadium. Yes it is a new concession stand but I never heard any issues on how it was run before so why change it? If the district does enter an agreement with Cagney’s where will the profit go? Will it go directly to the note to pay off the field to benefit the taxpayers? I for one feel that it should. I don’t think it should be a windfall for the school department I feel it should go back to the town to offset the bill for replacing the field. Once that debt is paid off then the money should go into a fund to replace the turf when the time comes that it needs to be replaced again. I do not want to see WWIS be in any type of contract sharing the school and town turf fields.

      • Mike great comment. I was going to say the same thing as the salary is listed in the teachers contract. Also after reading the teachers contract it is so one sided towards the union it’s no wonder the test scores are so low.

  4. I thought that the running of the concession stand would be done by students and parents, like members of a Booster Club do in almost every other school district. Certainly enough initiative went into getting it done that I would have thought this would be a non-issue. Having familiarity with big time Florida high school football, I can tell you that Boosters and students run the concession stands and food trucks are also stationed around the common area. In addition, at the local high school in Vero Beach, you pay admission to go to the game. Of course, their record was 60 or more consecutive wins…well worth the price of admission!
    To learn that a company needs to be “hired” to manage the stand and the use of the field is disconcerting. The AD should manage the field, students and football parents should run the concession stand. Lastly, If town residents wish to use the field, must we seek approval of WWIS for use? And in case there are any questions, I have resided in North Smithfield for 35 years and still maintain my residency in RI.

  5. Bill J. and Mike C. – thanks for the education. Where would I (and all of NS I’m thinking) be without that insight? I will defer to your brilliance going forward.

    Oh and by the way – no beer is sold in HS concessions. Anywhere. Just trying to help.

    • Tony with all of your sales experience and degree in communications I see why this makes you an expert on running a concession stand. Second if we what to emulate Bob Kraft and the New England Patriots then we should sell beer and maximize our investment. Maybe we can add luxury boxes, sports betting, and a dispensary just like the state of RI.

      Now if I was going to see a North Smithfield football game I would not buy food and refreshments from the concession stand but I would be more fiscally responsible with my money and bring something from home at a third of the cost.

  6. Unlike you Mr. Guertin, I like to consider the pros and cons of new ventures before jumping onboard. I really would like to know if other districts have tried this and what the results were. I’d like to know if it was profitable (and to what degree) or did it end up costing the district more in the long run. Perhaps renting the field excessively shortened the life of the field. I’d like to know if there were non-monetary costs such as decreasing opportunities for town recreational leagues to make use of the fields, because the managing entity was looking to make a greater profit by giving prime time spots to “paying” teams. I’d like to know if any district hired a management company by bundling all tasks into one package and if they found themselves satisfied with the marketing program but disappointed in the quality of the food. If you watch the last School Committee meeting you’ll see there were very few questions asked before the vote. Debate is healthy Mr. Guertin and should be encouraged, but you seem to always consider it as “negativity”, and now you refer to it as “sucking all the fun out of life”.

  7. Anthony since you or the district has any idea how to run a business, I will tell you how professional sports runs concessions since we are looking to become the NE Patriots. In professional sports the facility owner solicits bids for professional concession vendors (like Delaware North, the company that owns the Boston Bruins, who runs most major sports venues concessions) and gets a fixed fee and a percentage of gross revenue. Of course this is a major source of revenue for the facility and concession vendor so that is why you pay $12 for a beer and $5 for a hot dog. So outsourcing the concession stands will increase prices so both parties make a profit and patrons will pay the price.

    I do understand that it is easy for the superintendent and Mr. Tek to just outsource the work instead of looking to maximize the profit for the district. Now here is a more creative idea that will benefit the school maximizing funds and increase learning at the same time. We should embark, as part of the business curriculum, a project where the students run the concession stands so they can learn business lessons like purchasing, inventory, resource management, internal cash controls, pricing, etc. As well as tract a real life set of financial statements as well as managing profit and creating a budget. Now that’s a real benefit of having the concession stand and actual learning.

    • While I like the idea of having WWIS available for the students I think your idea of students running and working the stands is a much better opportunity. Create a business management elective around it and add to the students benefit.

    • In the past, the students always ran the concession stand. I’m not sure why the current students can’t do the same.

  8. Does it really matter if other districts “do this”? NS can’t be innovative? NS can’t look at new ideas? It’s a 45 day contract – please try not to suck all the fun out of life Mike.

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