SBJ/May 7-13, 2012/In-Depth

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Here are some concessions upgrades and concepts at MLB parks that have teams, vendors and fans tipping their caps.

Progressive Field: Sportservice’s $30 craft beer got all the attention last year in Cleveland, but Your Dad’s Beer stand
A beer stop for the the budget minded.
Photo by: Cleveland Indians
has had the cash registers ringing for budget-minded Indians fans. Old-school brands such as Blatz, Schlitz, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Genesee sell for $4.50 a can. The stand averages $4,000 to $6,000 in sales a game, compared with $1,200 to $1,400 when it sold hot dogs and peanuts, said Dan Smith, the Indians’ vice president of food and drink. By the way, the $30 Hoppin’ Frog Bodacious Black and Tan, a 22-ounce microbrew served in a bottle, was cut in price to $22 this season to provide more value, Smith said.

Petco Park: Tom Garfinkel, San Diego Padres president and chief operating officer, reached out to fans in the offseason on Twitter and through a team blogger to identify their favorite local brands. The feedback resulted in Hodad’s burgers and two Mexican restaurants, Bull Taco and Lucha Libre, joining Sportservice’s new menu items this year. Bull Taco is part of The Pier, a new concessions theme behind home plate that replaced the park’s original Westwinds sushi bar.

Hanging out at Dempsey’s Brew Pub.
Photo by: Baltimore Orioles
Oriole Park at Camden Yards: Dempsey’s Brew Pub & Restaurant replaced the old Bud Light Warehouse Bar, part of a multiyear revamp of concessions at the 20-year-old ballpark. Former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey, the team’s 1983 World Series MVP, is a partner with Sportservice in the venture and has committed to making 75 appearances this season. The restaurant has a private dining room for banquets and will be open year-round, a first at Camden Yards, Orioles spokesman Greg Bader said.

Citizens Bank Park: Aramark expanded its Chickie’s & Pete’s stand to a new indoor location at Ashburn Alley to satisfy demand for the iconic Philly sports bar brand and its signature crab fries. Also new this year is Dessert Alley by the left-field foul pole, selling homemade funnel cakes, doughnuts, cupcakes and milkshakes. The $3 cupcakes are the size of a softball, and Aramark sells about 100 a game. “It doesn’t sound like a huge number but we’ve seen guys with microbrews in one hand holding cupcakes in the other hand,” said Kevin Tedesco, Aramark’s general manager.

Yankee Stadium: Baseball’s plushest park is only 3 years old, but the team and its in-house concessionaire continue
Checking out the Manhattan skyline from the Malibu Rooftop Deck at Yankee Stadium.
Photo by: Legends Hospitality Management
to find new spots to generate revenue. Legends Hospitality Management converted an old storage space into the Malibu Rooftop Deck at the top of the stadium, adjacent to Section 310. Malibu rum bought naming rights to the bar, which is reserved for pregame group meals but opens to the public after the first pitch. The bar has an open grill with a view of the Manhattan skyline. “As you know, three years in this industry is ancient history,” said Dan Smith, Legends’ president.

Salt River Fields at Talking Stick: One year after the Arizona spring training complex opened, Ovations Food Services converted an old stand down the third-base line that served chicken dishes into a martini bar to match the volume of the Salty’s margarita stand down the first-base line. The Blue Martini is tied to the national chain of nightclubs by the same name. At the minor league level, Ovations opened a branded outdoor bar in right field at Harbor Park, home of the Norfolk Tides, the Baltimore Orioles’ Class AAA affiliate. The bar fills undeveloped space and addresses the need to attract a younger crowd.

The 2-foot-long Boomstick.
Photo by: Delaware North Sportservicee
Rangers Ballpark:
Sportservice’s new $26 hot dog, a 2-foot-long behemoth weighing in at a pound, is so big that it has two names. In general concessions, it’s the Boomstick, named after Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz. In premium areas, it is simply the Champion Dog. Early on, the vendor is averaging 500 units sold, with many couples sharing the daunting dish, said Shawn Mattox, Sportservice’s general manager. As a side item, Sportservice offers a 1 1/2-pound pretzel for $12.50.

Nationals Park: Not to be outdone by Sportservice, competitor Levy Restaurants created the monstrous 8-pound StrasBurger, made with ground brisket, chuck and short ribs. The $59 specialty item, named after Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, will be served only about a half-dozen times at the Red Porch restaurant in center field. These “Man vs. Food”-style gimmicks are perfect for fans munching along with the sport’s leisurely pace, said consultant Chris Bigelow. “You are not going to sell a lot of them, but a bunch of guys will think it’s fun to take on the challenge,” he said.

Others: Aramark’s “extreme nacho makeover” at its 11 MLB accounts has led to creative chip combinations. Toppings range from pastrami, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing at Citi Field to vanilla bean ice cream with Hershey’s syrup and caramel sauce at Angel Stadium. The nachos sell for $7 to $9. Separately, Aramark has jumped on the food truck trend to sell tacos at Kauffman Stadium, Asian noodle bowls at Coors Field and lobster rolls at Fenway Park. When those teams are on the road, Aramark plans to move the trucks to other tourist attractions in town to keep them busy.

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