Fan Matters: Changing the Concessions Experience

A Mercedes-Benz Stadium Blog by Mike Gomes, SVP Fan Experience

Greetings, fans!

Hopefully by now you’ve seen our big announcement about something we call “Fan First” pricing for our food and beverage offerings throughout Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  I believe this is a game-changer.  As a consumer, I like attending sporting events and concerts, but dislike the prices I’m charged anytime I want a beer or a snack.  And if I have my family with me, then it’s even worse because I’m usually paying for the whole group.  According to our research I’m not the only one who feels that way.  Because our fans have told us how much this means to them, we have decided to do things differently. Very differently.

For fans, food and beverage is an important part of their overall experience, but at most stadiums it is an underwhelming experience – prices are too high, quality is inconsistent, variety is lacking, service is spotty, and lines are way too long.  All of these elements of typical concessions are inadequate for the increased expectations of fans and consumers.  We started with price because it felt like the most obvious opportunity to demonstrate our obsession with the fan experience.  As a result, our prices don’t even begin to compare to your typical stadium or arena prices.  Instead, they are more likely to compare to what you might pay for lunch at your favorite fast food or fast casual restaurant.  When I tell people they can get a hot dog, fries, and a Coke for $7, the reaction I typically receive is “wow!” Furthermore, we aren’t just pricing a few items like that but instead are applying the “Fan First” approach to our entire menu starting with those items fans order most – hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, fries, nachos, popcorn, and pretzels.  Bottled water and non-alcoholic beverages are only $2 and you’ll be able to refill the soda yourself as many times as you’d like at no extra charge!  We’re even going to offer a draft beer for $5, but, sorry beer-drinking fans, no unlimited refills.  We had to draw the line there.

As I mentioned above, price is only one of the important things for fans when it comes to food and beverage.  That’s why we’re spending just as much time on our design and operational execution to keep lines moving quickly.  For instance we have 65 percent more concession points of sale spread throughout the entire building.  We’ve also purposely chosen whole dollar prices with tax already included in order to avoid having change as part of the transaction.  Plus we’ve moved the soda filling stations from behind the counter so fans can help themselves to refills rather than have to get back into a concession line. These types of decisions will all work together to keep lines short and moving quickly.

Another key element is variety and quality.  Between bringing in several local restaurant partners whom our fans have told us represent the best of the city to adding healthy options, specialty items, and craft beers, we intend to address all of the traditional shortcomings to deliver a food and beverage experience that delights fans.  Over the coming weeks we will be taste-testing our various offerings with some of our Atlanta Falcons fans and Atlanta United supporters to make sure we have the right balance of items and that they each are truly enjoyable.

We want you to genuinely look forward to grabbing some food and drinks when you come visit us at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  And maybe you, too, will say “wow” when you’re able to keep a little more change in your pocket.