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Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012 Conference speaker in focus: William Caruso, President of William Caruso & Associates
William Caruso's appetite for the catering industry has earned him an expert reputation. Here, he reveals why stadium planning and design is just his cup of tea
With some 40 years’ experience as a practicing consultant – and more than 100 stadia and arenas under his belt – Bill Caruso will be right at home among the many industry authorities speaking at the Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012 Conference. “I enjoy the excitement of working in this sector, of being able to create new menu, marketing and graphics sales opportunities for my clients that will naturally increase their bottom lines,” reveals the founder and president of William Caruso & Associates, Inc – a facilities planning and design firm based in Denver. And he’s obviously extremely good at it. In 2008, after 37 years in the business, he had led his firm in negotiating food-service contracts that exceeded US$1 billion worth of commissions, grants and investments for his clientele. Renowned throughout the industry, Caruso prides himself particularly on creating new ways to service products that may have never been employed in sports/entertainment environments before.
His appetite for the industry earned him a BS degree from Cornell University’s famed School of Hotel Administration in 1970 and an MBA from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1973. “My passion for sports stadia began in high school and college where I played both football and baseball competitively,” he continues. “I simply combined my love of sports and knowledge of a number of particular sports with formal training in hospitality industry management.”
His background is further amplified by a number of years of practical work experience within the in-house food-service department of a large national retail store, as well as in a number of positions in college and university food-service systems. In 1973, he began his consulting career with Harley Little Associates and subsequently Ricca, Coburn and Caruso Associates – two of the early food-service consulting firms. In 1986, however, he founded William Caruso & Associates, working on both management advisory and design projects around the world.
While in Los Angeles to share his expertise with delegates, Caruso will be listening out for some form of an announcement from AEG about the new 78,000-seat Farmers Field development – a story he has been following with keen interest. The project, which is designed by Gensler, involves the construction of a state-of-the-art sports stadium, entertainment, and premier convention centre in the downtown area by 2016. “Its unique location, the political processes required to gain its design/construction approvals, its impact on other downtown Los Angeles buildings and its overall focus in spearheading professional sports in Los Angeles are all unique features,” he says.
Looking ahead, Caruso predicts that technology – in particular, the use of digital-based electronic platforms for signage, menu boards and ordering systems – will have the biggest impact on the future fan experience, participation and sales levels. Specifically, he envisages fan experience zones, portable playing fields, new food types and styles, in-seat games, computers, ordering systems and electronic service points all coming to the fore, as well as expansion of restaurant-style menus, new themed portable foods and beverages and the use of celebrity chefs in many highly visible food and beverage operations.
“New food ordering systems, digital advertising, coupon sales and many other elements of product sales will dominate the market in the next five to 10 years and positively affect sales effort to new heights!” he concludes.
William Caruso will be moderating the Owners and Operators Summit: Session 2 – a catering and concessions experts roundtable discussion – at Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012 (11.30hrs-12.45hrs, Thursday 10 May 2012)