TAMPA — Tampa International Airport officials on Thursday revealed a plan to replace a single concessionaire with a strategy to recruit multiple operators to bid on food and retail business in a concept that could generate $1.3 billion in gross sales over 10 years.
The airport’s annual concessions revenue is projected to increase 31 percent from $16.7 million to $21.9 million by 2017 under the new concept.
Airport officials want to generate additional revenue and bolster airport services by providing a new range of local, national and international concessions brands by businesses that compete for packages of contracts with the airport.
That strategy would replace the current practice of working though a single, prime concessionaire, HMS Host Concessions, which has managed Tampa International’s concessions program since 1971. Host’s contract with Tampa International expires in September 2015.
“In general the trend for airports our size is to have multiple operators,” said Janet Zink, Tampa International’s assistant vice president of media and government relations.
“ What we are doing now is opening up to competition to give a greater variety of options to the consumers.”
Zink said once Tampa International began to add additional local business flavor in the past two years, such as the Columbia Restaurant and Green Iguana, other local businesses began to contact the airport with greater frequency inquiring about doing business there.
The airport has planned a series of concessions workshops to provide background for its new program:
Oct 22 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Tampa Airport Marriott and Nov. 5 at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater on basics of operating at airports; a Jan. 16 program on contracts for disadvantaged businesses and women- and minority-owned businesses at the Tampa Airport Marriott from 9 a.m. to noon; and a solicitation process and procurement overview on March 18 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Tampa Airport Marriott and on March 20 from 9 a.m. to noon at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater.
The airport will begin soliciting competitive proposals in the spring of 2014 and award contracts later in the year.
In a separate matter, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority agreed to spend up to $80,000 to provide consulting services with The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners Inc. to seek $250 million in state funding for various airport master plan expansion projects.
That followed a tense discussion among board members that included Chief Executive Officer Joe Lopano about whether that amount to launch a Tallahassee lobbying effort would be sufficient.
Lopano said $80,000 would be sufficient to get started while board member and Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist argued $200,000 would be needed.
“It’s all about relationships,” Crist said. “you are arguing for a logical process,” he told Lopano. “The legislative process (in Tallahassee) is not logical.”
Airport officials planned to meet in a closed session Monday afternoon with Cardenas officials to work out detailed goals of the consulting effort.