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Volume 21 No. 2


Don Muret

San Jose Earthquakes fans can belly up to one of the largest outdoor bars in sports at the MLS team’s new stadium when it opens in March.

The scoreboard bar anchors the north end zone, the open end of horseshoe-shaped Earthquakes Stadium. It sits beneath the video board, which has screens on both sides, four feet above field level and about 60 feet behind the goal, said Michael Patterson, a project architect with 360 Architecture, the stadium’s designer.

As the Earthquakes and 360 developed the stadium, they reserved the south end for 700 to 800 fans in supporters groups convening in a standing-room terrace. At the opposite end, they wanted a destination to frame an open space in the 18,000-seat facility.

The north-end scoreboard bar at Earthquakes Stadium will measure 118 feet long.

The 118-foot-long scoreboard bar — which the Earthquakes say is the largest exterior bar in North America — fills the north end nicely as a one-of-a-kind fan amenity, team President Dave Kaval said.

The bar is accessible to all ticket holders and should handle more than 1,000 patrons on game days, Kaval said.

“As we saw the stadium taking shape, we needed a neighborhood underneath it for people to congregate,” he said. “It has the look and feel of a high-end bar and a tie-in with San Francisco. [Most] of the wood is from old redwoods that are 2,000 years old.”

The redwood materials were reclaimed from the roof of an old zeppelin hangar at Moffett Field, a federal airstrip in Northern California. The same finishes are part of the owner’s club at Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers’ new facility.

> FLEX AND FLIP: Aramark is testing a new concept at Minute Maid Park tied to adjusting menu items at the same concession stand over multiple homestands, and as frequently as game to game.

Carl Mittleman, newly appointed president of Aramark Sports and Entertainment, discussed the future of sports concessions during a session on “Five New Ideas” at SportsBusiness Journal’s recent facilities conference in Pittsburgh.

In Houston, Aramark, the Astros’ food provider, has tested a “street eats” theme this season at one stand by incorporating flexibility into the design and operations to bring the food truck experience into the ballpark without the truck, Mittleman said.

“One week, we could be partnering with a Vietnamese concept, the next homestand we could be bringing in a [Houston chef] Bryan Caswell concept and a third concept could be in-house,” he said.

In many cases, concessionaires have limited real estate to work with at sports venues, and the flex concept allows Aramark to better use existing stands, Mittleman said.

The tests in Houston are serving as a model for the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium, he said. Aramark will be the team’s food vendor when the facility opens in 2016.

In the future, Aramark officials see the possibility for expanding the concept even further by “flipping” concession stand options during a game. To date that idea has not been tested, they said.

One example, though, could be “The Butcher and the Baker,” a stand selling burgers and sandwiches during the first five innings of a baseball game before switching to pastries and ice cream, Mittleman said.

Advances in food service technology with digital menu boards and cooking equipment would help facilitate the quick changeover as the grill stand slows down and fans’ attention turns to satisfying their sweet tooth.

“Baseball is probably the better sport to test [in-game flips] given the longer service times and the need of the business where you have a desire for a main meal early on in the event and the dessert need later on,” he said. “You might still have ‘Butcher’ available, but now you’re featuring ‘Baker’ through LED signs and graphics. The idea is to service fans better and give them what they want when they want it.”

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

The Rooftop, a new upper-deck attraction at Coors Field, has paid off handsomely for the Colorado Rockies.

Through 37 home games, the Rockies had sold 60,000 general admission tickets for the right-field space, matching the total number of tickets sold for all of last year for 3,400 old reserved seats in that space, said Greg Feasel, the team’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

In addition, food and beverage revenue at the Rooftop has tripled over last year’s numbers, said Carl Mittleman, president of Aramark, the ballpark’s concessionaire. The redeveloped 38,000-square-foot space, a multimillion-dollar project, spans two levels at the park’s highest point.

The Rooftop is the Rockies’ only general admission space. The redeveloped right field upper deck has group sales tied to one of two cabanas.
The CHUBurger Colorado Craft Casual Grill in Section 303, part of the Rooftop, is selling an average of 1,000 hamburgers a game at $7.25 apiece. CHUBurger, a local brand owned by the Oskar Blues brewery in Longmont, Colo., has naming rights to the Rooftop grill area.

Overall, the Rooftop serves as the stadium’s only general admission space. The seating setup is mostly tables and chairs and is first come, first served, but the destination is accessible to all fans regardless of seat

location. It opens two hours before the first pitch, 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the ballpark.

The Rockies, in conjunction with Aramark and Populous, the firm designing the space and the ballpark’s original architect, essentially took one of the stadium’s least desirable spaces and turned it into one of the hottest spots in Denver against the backdrop of the Rocky


“We’re creating spaces that were not necessarily designed to be connected with baseball but to the socialization aspect of the sport,” Mittleman said. “We’re seeing more and more folks starting to look at these spaces … and food and beverage plays a critical role in the design.”

Officials from other MLB teams visiting Coors Field are touring the Rooftop for ideas. One of those was Derek Schiller, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the Atlanta Braves, who are developing a new ballpark in Cobb County that is expected to open for the 2017 season. The Braves hired Populous to design their stadium, and the team has a particular interest in developing a rooftop space in the right-field corner that could overlook the mixed-use development next to the facility, Schiller said.

The Rockies, meanwhile, went after millennials, the age 20 to 30 set, Feasel said. “The crowd is coming earlier and everybody wants to see it,” he said. “The view up there is spectacular and fans can watch batting practice. It’s packed by the second to third inning.”

The Rockies sell “Power Tickets” for the Rooftop, a marketing slogan tied to loaded tickets. The price is generally about $14 to $15 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Six dollars of credit is embedded into every ticket, and fans can use the credit to buy food and drinks, including beer.

Aramark, for example, has a pregame special offering $3 Coors and Coors Light, enabling fans to buy two beers before they must dig into their pockets to pay for concessions, Feasel said.

Power Tickets are sold for seats throughout the ballpark, and this season the Rooftop’s general admission format has largely driven those sales. To date, the Rockies have moved 143,000 Power Tickets, almost doubling the 77,000 sold for all of last season, he said.

The redeveloped space also has a group sales component connected to one of two cabanas, which Feasel half-jokingly points out are the first in major league sports. The Jacksonville Jaguars open their new poolside cabanas for the coming NFL season at EverBank Field.

At Coors Field, the Rockies market one 50-person cabana for single-game rentals. The general admission ticket is $60 a person and includes a $15 concessions credit. Those patrons get a private bartender. They do not have a view to the game, Feasel said.

The second cabana is open to all Rooftop ticket holders.