SBJ/September 1 - 7, 2003/Facilities

Concessionaires: Bigger is better

The trend toward supersize food and drink portions is big in the NFL, as stadium concessionaires continue to push the envelope with larger sizes.

"It's a better value, and that's what the public is looking for," said industry consultant Chris Bigelow. "If they don't like waiting in line, they can buy a big portion so they don't have to come back as often."

Concessionaires also believe in the bigger-is-better theory because they make more money. Bigelow said, "It ends up being more profitable. Takes the same amount of labor whether you're serving a large or small size. Overhead is the same whether it's $9 vs. $4."

Offerings at Heinz Field include a bucket of wings and tubs of celery and dressing.
There are plenty of examples throughout the NFL. Centerplate prepares 16- to 20-ounce made-to-order burritos for $6 to $7 on the club level at Invesco Field in Denver and offers a new 44-ounce, contoured Coke souvenir cup ($5).

MGR Food Service rolled out the half-pound Klement's "Bad Dog" hot dog and the same size hamburger at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Both are $6.50 and have been well-received, said MGR President Phil Noyes. "We do a fair amount of fan surveying, and some like the bigger products."

At Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Aramark introduced its own brand of double-stuffed pepperoni pizza with two layers of dough. "It's a 12-inch pie cut into four slices. It's huge, one of the best deals ($6.50) in the stadium," said on-site GM Kelly Romano.

Levy expanded its carvery stations from premium areas to the main concourse at Ford Field in Detroit, serving deli sandwiches with 9 ounces of meat for $7, said Vice President John McLean. Boston Concessions has a triple-decker club sandwich, also $7, at Pro Player Stadium in Miami.

Lincoln Financial Field, new home of the Philadelphia Eagles, joins the list of sports venues with 24-ounce cans of beer. Sportservice sells the domestic brands for $7.50, said GM John Nuttall.

Daryl Webb, director of concessions for Stadium Food & Beverage, the in-house operation at Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, believes that, in the case of beer, there's a limit to supersizing. "There's already a trend in the insurance industry where they are trying to force you to [reduce] the beer size portions. The big thing is liability," he said.

Representatives of local Miller distributor I.H. Caffey told Webb that was the case at a recent Charlotte music festival. Officials were told at the last minute that they couldn't sell beer unless they reduced the size from 22 to 16 ounces.

The Panthers have the 22-ounce draft size but haven't been directly affected because they control beer sales with a two-beer limit per transaction, Webb said.

Bigelow, formerly with Aramark and the old Volume Services, recalled when "most of the leagues sold the 32-ounce beer" in the 1970s, when drunken driving was taken less seriously, he noted.

"We used to sell buckets of beer with four to five cups. Realistically, back then we didn't have security problems. That changed in the early '80s when leagues and teams said you've got to reduce the portions."

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