The American Express (AMEX) Community Stadium, nestled in the South Downs is home to Brighton & Hove Albion football club who recently made it into the Premier League after a 2-1 win over Wigan a few weeks ago.
The club’s history has undoubtedly had its highs and lows. Their return to the top flight will be only its second time in its history and just over 20 years ago the club narrowly missed relegation from the Football League altogether.
Sodexo have provided catering at the stadium for the last four years and shared the promotion journey with them so we caught up with Tony Crosbie, General Manager to talked about all things football and what the promotion means for the club and the catering team moving forward.
What has the journey been like to secure promotion?
An emotional rollercoaster to say the least! We came so close to promotion last year and finished 3rd in the Championship with just 2 goals in it so we all felt a bit sorry for ourselves at the end of the season. However we pulled ourselves together and by the start of this season we’ve been top of the league all the way. By late October you could really feel that promotion could be possible. We just kept getting better and better with some of the matches being sell outs and revenue being at an all-time high so we knew we could be onto something big and we were.
How has your journey to promotion affected day to day operations?
We’ve always thought and operated like a Premier League club so we’ve not really seen a huge difference. Obviously in the run up to promotion we saw much bigger crowds and guests making the most of our hospitality so that was challenging to make sure we had enough to cater for everybody. We have a very close working relationship with the club and we also have four years’ worth of intelligence to make sure we forecast and stock up accordingly. At the Wigan game we saw some of our highest figures yet with 25,000 pints being sold as well as 6,500 pies.
What does being promoted to the Premier League mean to you all?
It’s a big operation here at the AMEX. We have a team of 37 and on match day we can have over 500 staff. We all feel extremely proud of the promotion and privileged to have been part of it. This is something we’ve all wanted for such a long time so to finally achieve it means a lot to us all.
Looking forward to next season what can we expect to see?
A totally new concept in terms of hospitality with the development of a steak house grill which will open just in time for the start of the season on the 6th August. Even though there will be less games for us to play in the Premier League (19 in fact) we will undoubtedly be under the microscope a lot more so it’s really important that our menus reflect our status in the Premier League as well as consistently delivering on quality. We can also expect our match day experiences to be running at 100% capacity so we will be looking at the menus in more detail and making sure they reflect our status moving forward. We also hope to win a few more awards at the Stadium Experience Awards next month too. We’ve been shortlisted in 6 categories so we’re hoping for even more things to celebrate!