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Volume 22 No. 34
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Delaware North continues grab-and-go push

Allianz Field, home of Minnesota United FC, opened this year with three self-serve markets.
Photo: minnesota united

Sports teams and concessionaires spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to sell fans more food and drinks — and to do it with quality and service that makes customers feel like they got their money’s worth. In some cases, the formula can be as simple as getting out of the way.

That’s the reasoning behind an ambitious expansion of grab-and-go markets underway by Delaware North Sportservice. The company has 35 of the convenience store-style concessions areas at stadiums and arenas, with plans to add 20 more within the next year.

“We see this as a way to gain more transactions and satisfy fans with faster commerce and get them through as quickly as possible,” said Andrew Spencer, the company’s vice president of customer engagement and revenue. “It’s all about self-checkout and giving the fan what they’re used to seeing in more traditional commerce locations.”

Stocking the market concessions areas with bar-coded, packaged hot and cold food and drinks that fans scan and pay for speeds lines by 50%, according to Delaware North Sportservice.

A study released earlier this year by Oracle Food and Beverage showed that 72% of U.S. sports fans typically buy food when attending a game and 76% buy a drink. The same survey illustrated the perils of concessions wait times: 59% of respondents said they would spend more on food and drinks if teams and venues could improve speed of service by, yes, 50%.

Delaware North
grab-and-go markets range in size from 150 square feet to 800 square feet, with anywhere from 15 to 100 different items. The company is seeing the fastest growth at major league ballparks, including San Diego’s Petco Park. Baseball, though, is hardly alone. A recent example: MLS club Minnesota United FC’s stadium opened this year with three self-serve markets.

Because of shoppers’ familiarity with similar setups at grocery stores, Starbucks and Panera Bread, among others, the trend looks like it’s here to stay.

“It’s not necessarily the highest tech that’s making lines go faster,” Spencer said. “It’s sort of common sense.”