Hot dogs and peanuts are, and always will be, great. I don’t think you’ll find anybody who denies that. There will always be a place for a dog with some ketchup mustard and relish while taking in a ballgame. Then again, while everybody loves tradition, sometimes you’ve got to spice things up and introduce a new flavor to excite your customers.
When it comes to generating revenue through concessions, old, proven commodities like those previously mentioned will always work. However, once you begin pushing past the snacks that fans are used to, that’s when you might be able to attract a new crowd. Specifically, it’s important to pay attention to flavors that might represent the culture of the surrounding area.
“Local doesn’t cut it anymore — hyper and flexible local are becoming more and more popular,” said Carl Mittleman, the President of Aramark Sports & Entertainment, when speaking with Front Office Sports.
“Guests are looking for menus representing the community, culture, and flavors that surround them.”
That’s something to keep in mind when building up your own concessions. While it’s important to supply the proven commodities — i.e. popcorn, soft drinks, hot dogs — it’s best to keep in mind the surrounding area and what might bring local fans into your venue. With that said, let’s take a look at a couple of new concessions food ideas; some that are more cost-conscious and some that can something a little different on gameday.
If you haven’t had a Cuban Sandwich then I suggest you go get one (as soon as you’re done reading, of course). Originated in Cuba (duh..) and especially popular in Florida, a Cuban typically involves some combination of pork, ham and cheese pressed in between two pieces of bread. Add in some pickles and mustard and you’ve got yourself something tasty.
Guaranteed Rate Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox, has one of the best Cubans around. From a baseball perspective, the sandwich makes sense due to the relatively high number of players that have come to the United States from Cuba.
Filling, full of flavor and not too messy. Sounds like a pretty well-rounded concession item to me.
I get that Puppy Chow isn’t necessarily considered “new” as we’ve all had our Mom make it for us at one time or another, but it’s delicious and easy to make! Puppy Chow essentially consists of chocolate, peanut butter, Chex cereal and some powdered sugar.
I may be biased, but I think it’s tasty during pretty much any time of the year, too. This snack is a viable option for a high school concession stands looking for something cheap and new to offer their fans. Make a big batch, throw it into some small, plastic sandwich bags and I’m sure you won’t have a problem selling out of it in no time.
Find me a person who doesn’t like sliders and I’ll have found you a liar. Mini burgers are the best for a number of reasons: they’re small so you can indulge even more and just pretend you didn’t eat a lot, and they’re pretty customizable!
So, as a venue, why not set up a slider station in a slightly-less trafficked area (so as to avoid complete chaos)? You could then offer fans sections of various meats, cheeses and condiments to prepare the sliders to their liking.
Whether you’re a buffalo chicken guy/gal or prefer the traditional burger — I won’t discriminate. Sliders are sliders, and they’re delicious and a simple hit no matter where you are.
A little something for the adult crowd.
Regardless of how much everyone likes beer, you have to realize that there are times when fans are looking for something a little different. Beer or some type of mixed drink might do the cooling-off trick for some, but how about another option? Boozy pops have become quite popular of late with venues like the Oakland Athletics/Raiders’ Oakland Coliseum beginning to sell boozy popsicles via a “Party Pop Cycle.” Yes, that is just as it sounds — a tricycle that rolls around selling alcoholic popsicles.
Anything Named After A Player
I don’t care whether we’re talking about sports at the high school, college, professional level, etc. — everyone has a favorite player. Those favorite players are a big reason why many attend games. So, why not make something available that is named after one of the team’s more popular players?
Take, for example, an item that the Seattle Mariners have begun offering in honor of their new pitcher, Yusei Kikuchi. The “Ku Ku Fries” are topped with togarashie Japanese seasoning, red tobiko (flying fish roe), chili sauce, horseradish crema and chives.
It doesn’t even have to be something quite as extravagant as that. As long as it’s something tasty and it’s named after someone who can make a big play or two then fans will be bound to gobble it up!
As long as you’re offering quality food options, fans are going to eat. At the same time, they’ll eat even more if you’re able to offer something they maybe haven’t seen before. Fans eating more equates to fans spending more. More spending leads to more revenue.
While you’re thinking about those new food options, don’t forget to consider the way you’re pricing things out, either. Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, has been aggressive and cutting-edge when it approaches its concessions, becoming both the first completely cashless stadium and cutting prices on food. According to a New York Times article, a 50 percent decrease in food prices has resulted in fans spending 16 percent more once inside the stadium. So, while you’re working on making every bite delicious, don’t forget to consider what you’re charging.
The list of creative, new food options extends well beyond just five and as long as you can get a little creative and think outside the box (while staying relatively true to geographic roots), you just might be able to get a few foodie fans into your venue.