- The Atlanta Falcons sold food concessions at low prices this year in their new stadium.
- Fans spent 16% more on concessions at Falcons games and 88% more on merchandise than the previous year.
- Baseball teams can learn from the Falcons and make fans happier by selling hot dogs and beer for less money.
The Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened last year in Atlanta as home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United, and a simple idea that can change the fan experience throughout sports.
Concession prices have long been on the rise at athletic venues, but the new Georgia arena decided to try something new: Lower prices by 50%.
For $US2 each, fans can purchase popcorn, a pretzel, a hot dog, a refillable cup of soda, or water bottle. One more dollar will buy pizza, waffle fries, or nachos with cheese. For $US5, fans can order a cheeseburger or a draft beer.
The decrease in prices led fans to spend 16% more on concessions, as ESPN’s Darren Rovell first reported.
The AMB Group owns the Falcons and the multi-purpose stadium that replaced the Georgia Dome. The new stadium has 65% more points of sale than its predecessor, over 1,200 beer taps, and self-serve soda machines.
The stadium even has a Chick-fil-A, but the fast food restaurant has only been open for one of the Falcons’ home games this season thanks to its religious affiliation and policy of being closed on Sunday.
While it is not known how the price cuts affect AMB Group’s bottom line, it certainly helps with customer satisfaction.
The Falcons were the No. 1 team among NFL fans in a survey conducted by the league that asked about stadiums’ food quality, price to value ratio, speed of service, and variety, according to Steve Cannon, CEO of the AMB Group.
Two hours before game time, 6,000 more fans entered the turnstiles than in the previous season, creating more sales and alleviating in-game traffic at the concession stands.
Rovell reported that while concession prices decreased, there was an an 88% increase in sales of merchandise during football games. Perhaps fans were more likely to spend on a jersey if they were pleased with the low prices they paid on food and drinks.
With spring training starting, baseball teams should be looking ahead at the 2018 season and taking notes from AMB Group. Frustrated fans would love to see more reasonable prices for ballpark foods, especially since the national pastime is deeply associated with hot dogs and summer snacks.
Business Insider has previously looked at the prices of a small beer in MLB stadiums. Based on AMB Group’s experiment, we could expect to see more sales and happier fans if concessions were cheaper at baseball parks.
An easy point of comparison would be baseball’s Atlanta Braves, who also moved into a new stadium last year. At SunTrust Park, a hot dog costs $US6.50 and a 22-ounce soda costs $US5.50. While these prices are not excessive for stadium standards, Atlanta sports fans may have gotten a taste of low-cost stadium food and be unwilling to pay at a Braves’ game.
The approach used in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium runs counter to the ubiquitous pricing model used at sports arenas and entertainment venues – that because fans have no other dining options once they enter the event, the food vendors hold a monopoly and can charge as it pleases.
The Falcons’ home stadium is the first in sports to go the other way, and they seem pleased with the results.
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