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.
■ 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.
■ 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.
■ 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.
■ 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.