In Atlanta, Concessions Prices Go Down and Revenue Goes Up

In Atlanta, Concessions Prices Go Down and Revenue Goes Up

“I understand bringing kids to sporting events and saving up for tickets, and when you get inside you have to buy them food, and a hot dog that is $2 outside is suddenly $7 inside, and being frustrated by it,” Blank said. “You find ways to tell fans beyond words that you really care about their interests.”

Fans in Atlanta appear to have embraced Blank’s strategy. According to surveys of fans by the N.F.L., Mercedes-Benz Stadium ranked No. 1 in terms of quality, value, speed of service and variety. The number of fans who arrived earlier before games increased by 10 percent as well, indicating that dining options inside the stadium were better than those in the surrounding area.

Part of the improvement is obvious. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is the newest venue in the N.F.L., which means the kitchens and other infrastructure are newer than those in other stadiums. The Falcons also made it to the Super Bowl last season, so fan interest was high. And new stadiums almost always draw more fans because of their novelty.

Chris Bigelow, a stadium concessions consultant, said the novelty of selling basic food items at a lower price appeared to be a hit in Atlanta. But he has not seen any specific financial figures suggesting that the approach is anything more than a loss-leader.

He added that about 70 percent of revenue for N.F.L. teams comes from leaguewide television, sponsorship and merchandise contracts, so they do not need to rely on money from food and beverage sales in their stadiums as much as teams in other leagues.

“In the grand scheme of things, you could give food away,” he said.

And while fans may welcome inexpensive food options, they may only partly offset the higher prices for tickets and personal seat licenses.

For now, no other team appears to have copied Blank’s strategy, which he said was based on his experience as a co-founder of Home Depot.

Mike Gomes, the senior vice president for fan experience at AMB Sports and Entertainment, said the teams benefited from being able to design larger and more efficient concession stands from scratch in a new stadium. But he said the key was making sure the food wasn’t just cheap, but good.

“No one wants a $2 hot dog when it’s cold,” he said, “and no one wants a $2 hot dog when they are sold out.”

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