EARLY RETURNS ON MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM’S FOOD & BEVERAGE PROGRAM ARE VERY POSITIVE: ATLANTA MAKES BIG JUMP IN NFL AND MLS VOICE OF THE FAN RANKINGS
Atlanta Falcons rose from 18th in 2016 to 1st in 2017; Atlanta United Fans Give Club Highest MLS Ranking for Games at MBS
ATLANTA, GA – January 25, 2018 – After one season of play for the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United of Major League Soccer at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS), the fans of each team have ranked the MBS food and beverage experience No. 1 in each of the league’s voice of the fan survey. In May of 2016 MBS officials announced a game-changing new approach for the stadium’s food and beverage program, including fan first pricing on traditional fan favorites; stadium design features that allow more onsite cooking capacity and quicker transaction times; broader menu options and fan-chosen restaurant partners operating with in-stadium pricing the same as it is at each partner’s retail locations; and an innovative concessionaire agreement with Levy that kept control of pricing and menu, as well as training and oversight of gameday staff, under the control of MBS with Levy serving as business manager.
Based on NFL research, one of the most important factors of a positive fan experience is food and beverage, yet fans consistently rank it among the lowest amenities tracked by the NFL and across all major sports. NFL fans and MLS fans are surveyed weekly by the league on various elements of the gameday experience, including four unique F&B categories: Quality, Price/Value, Speed of Service and Variety. The Falcons and Atlanta United both finished first in overall F&B, and in each category, in their respective leagues for 2017.
Fans’ early response has been positive to the new approach in internal measurements as well. Despite a 50 percent drop in food pricing, average spending per fan at Falcons games increased in 2017 by approximately 16 percent over the 2016 season due to volume increase of 53 percent at MBS, while attendance was similar year-over-year. Gate and transaction data also indicate over 6,000 Falcons fans per game entered MBS earlier than in previous years to take advantage of F&B options and pricing in the stadium. The Falcons matched 2016 full-game consumption levels by the end of the first quarter of Falcons games during 2017 regular season games. In all, more than 200,000 items were sold per Falcons regular season game in 2017.
“Arthur Blank’s vision, resolve and significant investment to improve the fan experience by listening to the fans, and including them in the process of addressing their stated pain points, drove us to this new approach,” said Steve Cannon, AMB Group LLC’s chief executive officer. “This was first and foremost a huge investment in the fan experience and training gameday associates in an entirely different way to deliver on it. We’re certainly pleased with what we’ve seen so far, but there is more work to do. Delivering a great fan experience and business innovation are never-ending missions.”
Stadium officials cite earlier arrival time by almost 10 percent of fan capacity as only one of many positive system-wide impacts that were by-products of the design, execution and service of the F&B program. The Falcons also finished at the top of the league surveys for security screening, due in part to earlier fan ingress. Merchandise sales for the Falcons increased 88 percent over 2016 and according to NFL surveys 92 percent of fans attending Falcons games made a food and beverage purchase inside MBS in 2017, substantially up from 2016. Moreover, the first-season food and beverage satisfaction ratings contributed to overall gameday satisfaction ratings of first in MLS and third in the NFL, up from 17th in the 2016 season.
“Years ago, we started talking to our fans through surveys, focus groups, tasting events and gameday intercepts and they spoke loud and clear on this topic,” says Rich McKay, president, AMB Sports and Entertainment. “They are the experts on fan experience and the most important constituent for our businesses. They designed the experience and challenged us on the pricing model so it is the Atlanta fans that really deserve the credit for these initial results and we’ll keep listening because we are just at the start of this process. We were also very fortunate to have an owner committed to the investment and to find a partner in Levy that was willing to look at this in an entirely different way.” For supporting photo and video materials, click here.
Results from NFL and MLS Voice of the Fan Surveys (2017)
Atlanta Falcons NFL Rank
Variety of food
Quality of food
Speed of service
Value for price paid
Atlanta United MLS Rank
Variety of food
Quality of food
Speed of service
Value for price paid
Key Factors at MBS:
• Quality: Chef in every stand; 53 percent of stands have cooking capacity as compared to only 27 percent in 2016; menus designed for quicker decision-making; partners operating their own stands to ensure quality of their food and guest service.
• Speed of Service: 65 percent more points of sale; queue line design to maximize space and minimize wait times; self-service soda; whole-dollar pricing; condiments self-service areas; intelligent menu development; all designed to minimize waits.
• Variety: Holistic design of MBS allows for core products, restaurant partners and specialty carts to be accessed on every level; 1,264 beer taps allows for more beer offerings on tap throughout MBS. Stadium engineered end-to-end to eliminate running out of any food products throughout the stadium.
• Price: Affordable pricing on food and beverage that is comparable to the pricing at local restaurants or convenient stores; and consistent prices that do not rise for any event, including the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, concerts or college football games.
About Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Opened in August 2017, Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a world-class sports and entertainment venue in downtown Atlanta and home to the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United. The multi-purpose stadium is host to major sports and entertainment events, including the Super Bowl in 2019, the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2020 and the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship game and is the first professional sports stadium in North America to achieve LEED Platinum Certification by the United States Green Building Council. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is proud to be collaborating with twelve founding partners, which include Coca-Cola, Equifax, The Home Depot, NCR, Novelis, SCANA Energy, SunTrust, IBM, Georgia Power and American Family Insurance.
To learn more about Mercedes-Benz Stadium visit www.mercedesbenzstadium.com.
Director, Corporate and Marketing Communications