Help Wanted: Food, beverage, hospitality staffing shortage impacting Lucas Oil Stadium

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INDIANAPOLIS — It’s no secret a nationwide staffing shortage in the food, beverage and hospitality industry is trickling down to everyone.

For Lucas Oil Stadium, it’s no different.

“Pre-season game, we had 66, speaking concessions specifically, 66 locations that we were not able to staff for that pre-season game,” said Centerplate District Manager Yogi Stephens.

Now, with the regular season home opener out of the way, Stephens says that number has dwindled down to two.

Centerplate is the official in-house caterer for Lucas Oil and the Indiana Convention Center.

To fully staff Colts games, Stephens says it takes about 1,200 bodies in all facets, including concessions and other departments like front of house, culinary and suite staff. For the time being, Stephens says they’ve been able to fill vacancies with support from surrounding temp agencies.

“What we are really focusing on is our hourly perspective of bringing in new people and onboarding them,” said Stephens.

To help bring more permanent staffing, Stephens says they offer competitive pay, bonuses and even upping the incentives for nonprofits that volunteer to work concessions. That applies to Colts games or any event held at the stadium.

“Before the pandemic, we did 10 percent of all food sales towards that organization, but we raised from 10 percent now to 12 percent for food. We raised our alcohol from 8 percent now to 10 percent,” he said.

“We’ve added a tip line to every register,” Stephens added, “So that is, of course, an unlimited amount of money that someone can make. It’s as equal as being a server in a restaurant where you just don’t know how much you can make off of tips.”

There’s also opportunity for employees to pick up a variety of shifts at the stadium and convention center as Centerplate operates both locations.

Centerplate says it’s about 60 percent fully-staffed, with numerous positions open across the board. However, Stephens says they are really hurting for supervisors, which pays a starting rate of about $19 an hour.

In the meantime, as officials work to get back to pre-COVID expectations, Stephens says patience is needed among fans.

“The expectations coming in, as hard and as much as we’re trying to provide and exceed those levels of expectations as we have in the past, we are building our way up,” Stephens said.

“We want to be over our par levels, as far as staffing,” he added. “So patience is definitely the ask of right now, and for the fans, please know that myself, and this entire team, is putting in what seems like almost doctor, and police, and fire hours into this food and beverage operation. We’re trying to make the biggest impact that we possibly can in a very short amount of time.”

A job fair is set for Saturday, Oct. 2 at Lucas Oil Stadium from 9 a.m. – noon. Centerplate will be hiring for both Lucas Oil and Indiana Convention Center positions.

In the meantime, you can also apply now for positions.

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