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Fan-First Pricing | Will Mercedes-Benz Stadium change the food-and-beverage game?

  • Venue concessions among the cheapest in sport
  • Speeder service will cut an average of 11 seconds off each transaction
  • Fan-first pricing is result of extensive research

The spectacular halo screen is not the only eye-catching feature of Mercedes-Benz Stadium – so too is the food and beverage pricing.

Fans will be able to buy a hot dog for just $2 (€1.80) and a 12 oz Bud Light for only $5, making the venue’s concessions among the cheapest in sport. And the prices apply for all events at the stadium.

VIDEO: Mercedes-Benz Stadium's interior (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

Mike Gomes, senior vice-president of fan experience, says ‘Fan First Pricing’ is the result of extensive research.

“We’ve studied all aspects of the fan experience and food and beverage has historically scored poorly,” he explains. “The NFL surveys fans after every game at every stadium about game-day experience, on everything from ticketing to merchandising, and food and beverage is at the bottom.

“Our message to fans is: ‘We hear you.’ So we’re going to offer the same pricing they would expect in a local restaurant. This is about providing value so fans recognise they are being treated fairly.”

IMAGE: A selection from the stadium menu (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

With such pricing, increased demand is anticipated. So coupled with Fan First Pricing is a speedier service strategy. Mercedes-Benz Stadium will have 65 per cent more points of sale in comparison with the Georgia Dome. Restaurants will include self-service soda dispensers. Beer, a high transaction driver, will have over 1,200 taps compared to 30 in Georgia Dome.

“Our food and beverage strategy could not have been introduced after the stadium was complete – it had to be planned in to the design,” explains Gomes. “My background is Disney, which takes a holistic approach to design of food and beverage outlets, looking at all variables – price, speed of service, production capacity, restaurant areas – and we have used the same philosophy.

“Through better design and organisation, we think we can takes 11 seconds out of each transaction, which provides 15-per-cent quicker service overall. The self-service soda dispensers will provide further gains.”

The pricing is in whole dollars. “It’s all about making it simpler and faster at transaction level,” Gomes says. “So most prices we rounded down, and a small number were rounded up.”

IMAGE: A selection of drinks from the venue (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

Of course, this fan centric approach begs one important question – do the numbers stack up?

“We make money on every single item,” Gomes says. “Some of it’s on the margin, but this approach isn’t a loss leader. However, we don’t expect to see the same profit return as if we had used the same pricing model from Georgia Dome.”

The menu also features premium items, so supporters who want a more fancy burger, for instance, can pay $8. However, Gomes says it is hard to predict how fans will behave.

“We really don’t know whether they will trade down for the $5 burger or pay more for their favourite food items,” he says. “Our next step is execution, ratcheting out operational improvements, and looking at the analytics.”

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