Shaq expands Massive Hen, has location in Islanders $1.5 billion area

Shaquille O’Neal

Rich anger | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Shaquille O’Neal once signed the richest contract in sports history and then won four NBA titles. These days Shaq has a new business he’s trying to break into: Chicken Sandwiches.

O’Neal, who was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2016, is a co-owner of a restaurant business called Big chicken, which opened its first location in Las Vegas three years ago. Last year a second opened in Glendale, California.

Now O’Neal is focused on sports arenas, the kind of venue he knows best.

Big Chicken recently opened a location in Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, home to the National Hockey League’s newest team, the Kraken. And on Thursday, O’Neal made a quick stop through New York to catch a glimpse of UBS arena, the new $ 1.5 billion home for the NHL’s New York Islanders.

Big Chicken will sell its fried chicken sandwiches during NHL games and other events in the complex in the UBS Arena. Located behind the track for the Belmont Stakes, the arena is set to host its first regular season game on November 20, when the Islanders play against the Calgary Flames.

“Section 206,” said O’Neal, smiling into one of the many local television cameras that were in attendance to capture the promotional event. He was referring to the section where Big Chicken is in the arena.

“This is my ritual,” he told CNBC shortly after the television cameras disappeared. “Fried chicken with cheese, cucumber and hot sauce.”

O’Neal founded Big Chicken with friend Matt Silverman and Agent Perry Rogers. It’s not his first foray into the food industry. O’Neal owns various Papa John locations and even appears in a commercial for the pizza chain. In 2019 he joined the company’s board of directors.

But this is a very different job for O’Neal, because he’s starting the brand from scratch.

The UBS Arena will be the home of the New York Islanders.

Source: New York Islanders / UBS Arena

In the UBS Arena on Thursday O’Neal was accompanied by Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky. In honor of Veterans Day, they took photos with members of the military and then stood in an unfurnished suite to watch a chef prepare dishes that will appear on Big Chicken’s menu. O’Neal joked about not knowing all of the hockey rules but said he watched NHL games.

One of the sandwiches on the big chicken menu is called Uncle Jerome, named after O’Neal’s uncle. Another is Charles Barkley, a reference to the former NBA star and O’Neal’s “Inside the NBA” broadcast partner. Barkley’s eponymous sandwich comes with mac and cheese on top of the chicken, along with crispy onions and “Shaq sauce”.

Big Chicken also includes the MDE, which stands for the most dominant of all time and is designed to center around O’Neal’s career, mostly for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was eight times the first team in the entire NBA and three times the most valuable player in the final.

In 1996, shortly after arriving in LA from Orlando, the Lakers recognized O’Neal’s dominance. The team signed him to a seven year old, $ 120 million hand out. It was the richest in sports at the time and set the stage for the Lakers’ resurgence.

O’Neal led the Lakers to three straight championships from 2000 to 2002 and won his fourth title at the Miami Heat in 2004. He ended his career with 15 all-star game appearances and an MVP trophy. Last month, O’Neal became one of the 75 best players of all timeas the NBA celebrates its 75th season.

Shaquille O’Neal # 34 and Kobe Bryant # 8 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2004 NBA Playoffs

David Sherman | National Basketball Federation | Getty Images

Extensive business portfolio

O’Neal outdated $ 280 million during his playing career and Forbes It is estimated that he made over $ 700 million in total, including his extrajudicial efforts.

O’Neal bet early Google and Apple, and has branded sneakers at Walmart, a clothing line JCPenney and a men’s jewelry line. He also participated in one alkaline water Company this year.

He was a “strategic advisor” for Wynn Resorts” Sports Gambling Unit WynnBET. Due to NBA rules, he had to give up his minority stake in the Sacramento Kings for this deal.

Restaurants were one of the greatest O’Neal plays of his post-NBA life. He told CNBC that opening quick service restaurants (QSRs) has been a passion since his time at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. O’Neal said of the book that got him up and running, “The Dummies’ Guide to Starting Your Own Business.”

In May, O’Neal and his Big Chicken team hired Josh Halpern, a former executive at Anheuser-Busch InBev, as managing director.

“We do some things differently,” said Halpern in an interview. “We used a high quality chicken that is antibiotic, cage and hormone free. We want to get better value for money.”

Shaquille O’Neal, NBA star and chief fun officer of Carnival Cruise Line, gives guests a taste of his highly anticipated dishes at sea as part of Big Chicken in the Mardi Gras summer landing zone during Carnival’s NYC cruise Cruise Line will be offered a summer event to celebrate the 2020 arrival of Mardi Gras at Pier 59 on June 18, 2019 in New York City.

Mike Coppola | Getty Images

For expanded distribution, Halpern said, Big Chicken would use what are known as ghost kitchens, which allow it to put items on a menu alongside items from other restaurants so consumers can mix and match in a single order.

Big Chicken in collaboration with Ghost Kitchen brands and will present items on digital menus in front of large retail chains. There’s already one in there a Walmart in Rochester, New York.

The strategy “takes us to some neighborhoods and cities in the US that may not have been early adopter cities,” Halpern said for Big Chicken. He said a location in Rockport, New York will be opening soon.

Big Chicken started accepting franchise applications earlier this year, Halpern said. The cost ranges from $ 450,000 to $ 1.4 million. There’s a $ 40,000 franchise fee and the company pays 5% of sales and 2% combined for national and local marketing.

O’Neal understands the franchise model from his experience with Papa John’s.

“He told me, ‘You better never hurt a franchisee because I’m a franchisee and you would hurt me,'” Halpern said. “He means that 100 percent.”

Another place that consumers can try big chicken sandwiches is on a carnival Cruise. Carnival chairman Micky Arison owns the Miami Heat, which won its first NBA title in 2006 with O’Neal at its center.

Shaquille O’Neal

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Restaurant franchising has been an attractive investment for many ex-NBA players. Magic Johnson previously owned over 100 Starbucks Locations and has several TGI Fridays restaurants and more than 20 burger kings in his portfolio.

Former NBA player Junior Bridgeman bought numerous Chili and Wendy franchises before selling them for $ 400 million in 2016 want to invest $ 100,000 in QSRs.

“It’s like investing in stocks,” Ratliff told CNBC. “Let it grow, and if you decide to sell it, you sell it or keep it going and take the rest of the growth. But I think it’s a great opportunity. “

Halpern said that QSRs “give you an opportunity to create wealth for a broad mass of people”.

While Big Chicken is O’Neal’s biggest leap into the restaurant business, he’s had others. He owned Shaquille’s, a restaurant in LA Live, an entertainment district around the Staples Center where the Lakers play. After Covid-19 hit and the traffic dried up, O’Neal closed the shutters Shaquilles. He said paying the $ 90,000 monthly rent wasn’t worth it.

“And I didn’t get a PPP loan,” added O’Neal, referring to the Small Business Administration’s paycheck protection program. “So I closed it and we’ll try to reopen one day.”

In February, officials in Atlanta did Suspected arson caused the fire to become a historic Krispy Kreme Franchise that O’Neal bought in 2016. O’Neal told CNBC that he recently approved a new design for the donut shop and plans to reopen in 2022.

“As an athlete, you have to learn to adapt on the fly,” said O’Neal. “You ever see a guy practice a move and then when he takes that move away, [players] don’t know what to do. You have to be able to adapt. “

But O’Neal’s work with Papa Johns could be his best-known role in the industry. He was appointed to the board of directors of Papa John in 2019 to repair the company’s image after former CEO John Schnatter surrendered the previous year racially disparaging comments which he made public.

“Another difficult decision”

One of O’Neal’s former teams, the Phoenix Suns, is now facing a similar controversy.

Earlier this month, a ESPN article Alleged Suns owner Robert Sarver abused employees and made racist and misogynistic comments during his 17-year tenure with the franchise company. Sarver has dismissed the charges and the NBA has opened an investigation into the matter.

“I’m not a draft horse – I’ve had interactions with the man 10 times and I haven’t seen any of them,” said O’Neal. “But if there are allegations of this magnitude from employees, there has to be an investigation.”

The issue rocked the NBA seven years after former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling sold his team when audio recordings of Sterling surfaced with racist comments.

“If the allegations are true, Adam Silver will have to make another tough decision,” said O’Neal of the Sarver situation. Silver has been an NBA commissioner since 2014.

Shaquille O’Neal will DJ Diesel at the SHAQ Bowl for Super Bowl LV on February 7, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.

Gerardo Mora | Getty Images

As a businessman, one of O’Neal’s most important qualities is making people laugh. During his interviews in the UBS arena, he made a cameraman laugh and caused laughter in the surrounding audience by making fun of the chef who prepared the sample rolls.

O’Neal credits his mother, Lucille, with the motivation behind his approach.

“I just keep making people happy,” he said. “That’s my mission. I’m just trying to grant her wishes and do whatever she says. I have to make people feel good.”

The chicken restaurant market is overcrowded, with Chick-fil-A and Popeyes fighting for the best fried chicken sandwich and MC Donalds and other fast food chains that advertise their own offerings.

When asked if he intended to compete with brands like Popeyes, O’Neal said “absolutely”. Then he added, “And we never run out of chicken – never,” a blow to Popeyes that expired in 2019 amid a social media crush.

Before O’Neal left the event to catch a flight, he was asked to pick the best restaurant in his portfolio.

“I never think about it,” he said. “What I’m proud of is getting my mother what she wanted.”

SEE: Two-time NBA champion Shane Battier is taking his next step as a Yext board member

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect victory in the Miami Heat Finals.

Live shows, leisure returns to Brookshire Grocery Enviornment

BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTAL / KMSS) – With vaccination rates rising and fewer COVID-19 cases, major events are returning to Ark-La-Tex. After 16 months, the Brookshire Grocery Arena opens its doors to the public.

“This will be our first concert after the shutdown and we’re just so excited,” said Rebecca Bonnevier, general manager of Brookshire Grocery Arena.

With this year’s notable headliners and shows postponed, thousands of outside visitors are arriving.

“That means money in the restaurants, they’ll have to buy gasoline, they’ll stay in hotels and of course they’ll buy their concert tickets,” said Lisa Johnson, President and CEO of Bossier Chamber of Commerce.

“Plus, it’s just so exciting to see people get back together to hang out and be normal.”

“In the past few years we’ve had some of the biggest names of all time. And just so excited to bring so many more. We have a lot of things planned that we can’t quite say yet, but they will come soon, ”said Bonnevier.

The return of entertainment brings a sense of normalcy after a devastating time for business.

“One of the hardest hit industries was the hospitality and events industries. And now that it all opens up again, we see our festivals come back, our concerts come back. It’s a very exciting time, ”said Johnson.

“The most important thing for us every day was doing everything we can to get our family back – our working family and as soon as possible to have experiences that are finally coming – where people can go away and forget about the last year and a half, so to speak,” said Bonnevier.

“There is no other way to say it, we are so blessed to have this building. We are ready to go and take care of people while they see these great acts. “

The city organizers are ready to welcome the guests with open arms.

“We are from the south, we are known for our hospitality and the hospitality of everyone,” said Johnson. “And we look forward to all of these foreign visitors who return to our concerts and festivals.”

You can find a complete schedule of concerts and events at Visit the Brookshire Grocery Arena website.

Sockers break floor on new sports activities and leisure enviornment

OCEANSIDE, CA (KGTV) – The Sockers have been around since the early 1980s, but they have always been renters to their home arena.

But that will change very soon. After five years of planning, the team has laid the foundation stone in a new 8,000-seat indoor arena in Oceanside and will finally have a place to call itself.

“It’s great for us players,” said Sockers captain Brian Farber. “It’s great for our fans, and to be fair, it’s not just a stadium for us. It’s going to be great for Oceanside, North County, San Diego and the entire Southern California region. Everyone will benefit from this stadium.”

Sockers’ head coach Phil Salvagio says the smaller size of the new arena compared to the larger capacity of the sports arena creates a more intimate environment for a game.

“It’s compact and loud. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and a rocky stadium.”

The cost of the new privately funded arena is estimated at $ 50 million and will be in an area north of Highway 78. Oceanside Mayor Esther C. Sanchez says North County is very excited about this project.

“That was a dream and I just heard it was a Sockers dream to find a home. Well, you found one.”

And while the Sockers have played in the sports arena for most of their time, they find North County to be a perfect fit.

“We knew there was a void and that most of our fans live in North County, so we’re trying to please them by coming here.”

The arena, which will host concerts and other sporting events, is the first of its kind in North County and is expected to open in 2023.

Brookshire Grocery Enviornment poised to make leisure comeback this yr | ArkLaTex In-Depth

BOSSIER CITY, La. – This is where the ArkLaTex rocks.

It’s the newly named Brookshire Grocery Arena, which is right across the Red River in the Bossier parish.

In addition to this new name, there is also a new game plan for the future.



Rebecca Bonnedier

Rebecca Bonnedier, General Manager of the Brookshire Grocery Arena

“I think we’ll be back to normal with a number of events in 2022, but we’ll have events in 2021,” said Rebecca Bonnedier, general manager of Brookshire Grocery Arena.

It’s been a slow process to come back since the files screeched to a halt in the arena in March 2020. More than a year later, the financial impact of these vacancies is still being felt.

“Unfortunately, we had to reduce some of our employees during this time. The few of us who are here have been busier than ever before. We work every day to ensure that we do what we need so that we can bring our family back.” We had 24 full-time employees and now there are only three full-time employees and one part-time employee during the pandemic. We are there now, “added Bonnedier.



Brookshire Grocery Arena Events sign

In December it was announced that Brookshire Grocery had acquired the arena’s naming rights for the next decade. In the months that followed, important steps were taken to give the 21-year-old arena a makeover.

Those out and about on Arthur Ray Teague Parkway can now see some of the acts tentatively slated to take place at the arena in the coming months. In addition to outdoor signage, concertgoers can also expect an improved sound system and new LED lights.

These improvements take place inside and out. The city of Bossier wanted to help. Bossier City Council agreed and then donated $ 500,000. That happened in February, but new members of Bossier’s city council said they are also focusing on bringing concert-goers back.



Shane Cheatham

Shane Cheatham

“There is so much we can do in terms of revenue to keep people here and not have to cross the river to Shreveport to shop or entertain their family,” said Shane Cheatham, who was elected Mayor Tommy Chandler was selected to be the city’s next chief administrative officer.

Cheatham said the support will also continue with a new mayor and city council members.

“We have to work with our developers here,” he added.

With every state different in its COVID-19 health policies, it has been difficult to set a solid schedule for future artists and performers in the months to come. Only regional artists are currently planned. And if the COVID-19 guidelines change, the scheduled performance dates can also be changed.

By the time the concerts can start again, those in charge of the arena hope for September.