If there’s anything sports fans love more than sports itself, it’s food. The concession industry has been keeping a watchful eye on the latest food and technology trends by finding ways to marry the two and keep fans coming back for more. More than ever, food and beverage play an important role in the fan experience at sports stadiums and arenas. While our past generations may have enjoyed hot dogs and Coca-Cola, it’s now all about craft beer, truffle fries, and deluxe burgers (don’t forget about the gluten free bun). With the increasing amount of local restaurants in our cities serving up unique and carefully crafted cuisine, fans don’t want to leave their favorites at the door anymore. Thus, causing a push for local fare in our nation’s stadiums and arenas.
For many, dining has become what some call a social experience, and stadium officials are using this new way to dine to drive attendance and add value to the overall game day experience. To keep up with today’s trends, stadium fare is shifting toward a menu that can fit everyone’s needs and desires. This means including more locally sourced foods and placing more importance on authenticity and dietary restrictions. And with the support of partnerships with local farmers and suppliers, stadiums are able to do so. Aside from the ever-evolving menu, mobile technology is making its way into our nation’s stadiums in order to better assist fans. All across the country stadiums are looking for opportunities to improve service by implementing convenience-based technology such as mobile ordering and checkout.
One stadium, in particular, that’s leading the change in concession experience is the brand new Mercedes-Benz stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons and United. While they still have plenty of traditional fare options like Chick-Fil-A, and Papa Johns, the stadiums recently incorporated quite a few Atlanta hotspots for fans looking for that one-of-a-kind experience. Falcons fans can enjoy food from Molly B’s Kitchen, Golden Brown & Delicious, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, and many more while they sit back and watch the game (and enjoy a craft beer from local the local Georgia brewery, Terrapin). And as menus evolve, so do the prices. Owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank, states that the stadium plans to sell the least expensive food in the NFL Meaning bottles of water, for example, will be around the $2, which is significantly cheaper than usual. Mercedes-Benz stadium isn’t alone in this either as the desire for local fare has swept the country by storm. Other NFL stadiums hopping on the bandwagon are Heinz Field, AT&T Stadium, and Lambeau Field.
As our society becomes more food-focused, so do our stadiums. With the dramatic push for a more fan-centric experience, I think it’s safe to say goodbye to the typical hot dog, peanut, and nacho offering, and say hello to local fanfare. Which stadium (or arena) do you think is serving up the best cuisine?