Feeding basketball fans at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena is a team effort


MAAC logoIt's not just the elite athletes that will be making a beeline to the concession stands at Webster Bank Arena this weekend, it's the hungry fans looking to fill their ravenous appetites with tasty treats and thrilling basketball action during the 2011 Spark Energy Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) men's and women's basketball championships.

Imagine approximately 90,000 chicken fingers, 3,000 hot dogs, 15,000 sodas, 5,000 bottles of water, 2,000 pretzels, and a couple thousand servings of French fries, and you start to get a sense of what a large-scale food service program is all about.

That's what Linda Stringham, general manager of food and beverage for Centerplate said will be produced and sold during the five-day MAAC basketball tournament.

With a total of 20 teams and 18 games scheduled, Stringham knows that feeding 5,000 to 10,000 spectators a night is an appetizing business, and it's her job to coordinate the massive food operation.

Centerplate, which is based in Stamford, Conn., manages the preparation and cooking of all the food for Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. They also run similar operations for the New Britain Rock Cats and Oakdale Music Theatre as well as other venues throughout Connecticut.

Stringham takes her business seriously, and said hot food and ice-cold beverages need to be ready and available for sale as quickly as possible. According to Stringham, they are well prepared for the tournament. "We will have 85 employees on-hand, working 12-hour days, pumping out fresh food during the games," she said.

Naturally, managing a large event like this takes a group effort, and the person in charge of making sure the food tastes good is executive chef Robert Hurd. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hurd is responsible for whipping up special menu items like a customized carving station and pasta bar for many of the private parties being held during the MAAC tournament. "We will be here during private events, before and after the games, and anytime there are spectators in the building," said Stringham.

Since 2002, the MAAC basketball tournament has welcomed more than 325,000 fans, and tournament coordinators said Webster Bank Arena is a great place to get introduced to the craze of a big-time college basketball tournament.

Basketball fans can choose from a variety of ticket packages including a family four-pack with refreshments for only $65. To purchase tickets for the 2011 MAAC tournament please visit Ticketmaster at http://www.ticketmaster.com or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.

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Media Contact: Mark Gregorio, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, mgregorio1@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 3, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 226