Only so many shopping days remain until Christmas, but perhaps you can find that special something up for auction Tuesday among the castoffs from U.S. Bank Stadium.
Not yet through their fourth NFL season, stadium operators are shedding unneeded kitchen equipment. There are industrial dough mixers, hot dog rollers and a commercial meat slicer; bar mats, shiny cocktail shakers, purple champagne flutes, etched whiskey tumblers, a monster-sized Mix ’n Chill blender and insulated Super Bowl food displays.
All are among the 540 lots up for sale in the online auction that will start rolling at 10 a.m. Tuesday through the website of Spring Valley, Minn.-based Grafe Auction.
Grafe general manager Paul McCartan said there is strong early interest in the sale, for which bidding has begun. He pitched the auction as a replacement for those who missed out on Black Friday.
“You can sit at home with a nice cappuccino and buy online, then come down and pick it up at your convenience,” McCartan said, adding that plenty of the auctioned items would work well in she-sheds and man caves.
Michael Vekich, chairman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) board, said that stadium concessionaires and food operators have refined what they need. The result is that the items in the auction, which are taking up limited storage space at the stadium, have been deemed excess. Proceeds will be directed back to the stadium operation, likely the capital fund, he said.
Since the stadium opened in August 2016, operators SMG (which merged with AEG to form ASM Global) contracted with Aramark to run concessions. Those operations have evolved and shifted in the 66,650-seat building.
After the first Vikings game, for example, operators realized that one mobile nacho vendor wouldn’t suffice. The line was long and steady for the generous-sized platters of chips with fixings.
Buying the right amount of equipment might seem easy for the home cook, but the stadium operation involves 10 industrial back-of-the-house catering kitchens as well as 32 permanent concession stands and 64 portable ones. In addition to Vikings games, the $1.1 billion stadium plays host to hundreds of smaller events ranging from parties to business dinners.
The Grafe Auction website touts the items for sale as “new surplus overstock or hardly used.”
Something for everyone
The auction will begin with the smaller items. First up are two Captain Morgan bar rail mats, listed Monday at $4.80 for the pair. Item two is a pair of New Amsterdam Vodka bar mats, with a bid of $6.50.
The higher-end items come in the middle of the auction, including Hobart Legacy HL600 and HL400 mixers. In bidding Monday, the Hobart 60-quart mixer was the highest-ticket item at $4,500, followed by a high bid of $1,200 for the 40-quart mixer. The larger of the two sells new for about $19,000 retail, and the smaller mixer retails for about $13,000.
Numerous popcorn machines and hot dog rollers are available from 20 cents on up. A deli meat slicer was listed at about $100 along with a multi-bottle self-contained wine cooler and server. Those Hamilton Beach Mix ’n Chills, which can churn out smooth margaritas and malts in seconds, were listed at about $60.
Liquid cheese dreams will be answered for the lucky winner of a warming container and pump to dispense the chip and pretzel topping. The high bid was just $16.
Some of the items remain in their original boxes, including all sorts of glasses from wine to pilsner and water. No Vikings fan should sleep on those purple flutes.
“If you host a Super Bowl party and the Vikings are in it, you’ll be the coolest person on the block,” McCartan said.
An 18% auction fee, plus sales tax, will be tacked onto the winning bid for each item.
All the overstock comes from a mix of equipment used in concession stands, kitchens and premium areas, including large buffets and dessert carts.
MSFA and ASM Global spokeswoman Lisa Niess couldn’t put a dollar value on the items up for auction because they were part of “many different procurement processes and the previously paid value has not been the focus.”
Ultimate sale prices are impossible to predict, as even identical items will sell for different prices throughout the day, McCartan said.
“If it brings five cents, if it brings five bucks, if it brings 10,000 bucks like that big mixer — everything sells,” he said.
Bidders are required to register on the website and pick up the items they win. Once the bidding starts, items will go up in order, one at a time. Once a bid is placed, competitors have 20 seconds to place a higher bid or the item will be gaveled sold.
Depending on the competitiveness of the bidding, the 540 listed lots should be gone in a few hours, McCartan said.
The MSFA itself initially tried to sell the items but got little interest, he said. Then it tried to sell them to other state agencies, universities and fairs.
Ultimately, officials went to Grafe, a professional operator with decades of experience in industrial auctions. Vekich called the decision “prudent, good business.”
“At least we’ll get some money back as we go through the auction,” he said.