SBD/Issue 9/Facilities & Venues

MLB Testing Food Orders On iPhone App At Citizens Bank Park

iPhone App Likely To Have
Broader Availability In '11

MLBAM has added food ordering to its At Bat iPhone application, with the enhanced functionality currently being tested at Citizens Bank Park. Under development for much of this year, the food ordering capability through the iPhone is part of a broader effort by MLBAM to develop venue-related elements to the popular mobile application, one that also includes detailed wayfinding, ballpark amenity information and game-related social media content. The Phillies and Citizens Bank Park are serving as a trial run for a likely much broader effort during the '11 season. Availability this season is slated to extend through the entirety of the Phillies' likely postseason run. "This is still a testing period. But we are very optimistic and are trying to get a lot of learnings and see what needs to be done to support the other 29 clubs with this as well," said MLBAM VP/Wireless Adam Ritter. "This has come together through a really strong collaboration between us, (Phillies concessionaire) Aramark, and the club." The ballpark was chosen for several reasons, including a desire by Aramark to participate in the effort and geographic proximity to the Philadelphia HQs of Aramark and MLBAM's N.Y. HQs. Food available through At Bat does not include the entire run of menu options at the ballpark, but does feature many specialty items, including Tony Luke's cheesesteaks. The delivery-only service is available throughout every seating section of the park, with the exception of the Diamond Club and suites, as those luxury areas already provide attendant-driven food delivery. Access to the phone-driven food ordering is gated by the GPS function of the iPhone that is used to confirm users' location within the ballpark. Delivery time during initial testing averaged 12 minutes. AT&T last month boosted cell service within Citizens Bank Park with the installation of a series of new antennas.

GROWING SEGMENT: The MLBAM/Phillies/Aramark entry into cell phone-driven concessions adds to other nascent ventures in the space that include FanGo and the Jaguars' ongoing work with Vancouver-based Mobio Identity Systems Inc. at EverBank Field. This latest effort, however, is considerably more ambitious in scale than many other tests that have been generally limited to specific seating sections. "Getting this available through people's individual devices is a great step forward," said Aramark Sports, Entertainment & Conventions President Marc Bruno. "This is an exciting new frontier, and one that eventually, we think, could have major implications in the overall ballpark experience." Aramark has hired several additional staffers to aid with the food delivery. Extending the food ordering to other mobile platforms is under consideration, Ritter said.

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