You Gotta Buy Food In Those Corporate Suites

For the 14-day United States Open at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, Queens, NY, the United States Tennis Association leases a corporate suite for up to $110,000. But that is not all. The suite-holder also must buy $24,000 worth of food from Restaurant Associates, the in-house caterer.

The $110,000 suite fee is slightly more than what the 81-game season of the Boston Red Sox games in Fenway Park go for.

The New York Times reported that a suite-holder from last year did not have his suite renewed because his average lunch and snack bill had been $7,500 a year since l997. He received a warning last year about his deficit. It really hit the fan when suite-holder Steve Levkoff, who runs a $70 million business in the borough of Queens, and his friends clad in Hawaiian shirts brought in deli sandwiches for 2000's Super Saturday matches. The Times said they were in "flagrant flaunting of suite lease 6 (a), which effectively bars independent picnicking catered by outsiders."

Levikoff was forced to pay a penalty for food not eaten — one day's penalty was $1,089.91.

Food eaten at other on-site restaurants, by the way, does not count toward the $24,000 minimum, which is based upon 20 ticketholders in a suite for each of the 24-day and night sessions — or a $100 a person per ticket per session. And that's a lot of food and beverage, albeit the rates are pretty high to start with.

Levkoff, who has attended the Open for the past 30 years, might have gotten away for another year without making the minimum — he was never asked to pay a pre-tournament deposit of $18,000 — but when a Restaurant Associates employee saw him with contraband deli, he was a goner. Or as the Times said, "In the end, Levkoff's final, unpardonable sin was to go brown-bagging with fugitive deli food on that fateful day."

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