With opening day of Mercedes-Benz Stadium just weeks away, Atlanta sports fans have one more thing to get excited about at the new venue: concessions.
Not only can fans look forward to $2 sodas and $5 cheeseburgers at the stadium, which will be home to the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC, but they’ll be able to fill and refill their own soda cups. If they prefer brands like the Varsity and Chick-fil-A, they’ll find items for prices similar to what they’d pay at those eateries.
Those looking for a little fancier food will find options, too, and beer lovers will rejoice: There will be 1,200-plus taps across the stadium, compared to just 30 in the Georgia Dome.
Basically, typical fan favorites, such as hot dogs and nachos, will be affordable, and time spent waiting in food lines should be less, with more places to buy concessions and more space to prepare food. Items on the core concession menu, from popcorn to a basket of chicken tenders with a basket of fries, will all range in price from $2 to $6.
The reason for the low pricing, say stadium officials, is because they want fans to have the best game-day experience possible.
“We overpay at every stadium, ballpark, arena. We grudgingly accept it or we complain,” said Mike Gomes, AMB Sports & Entertainment Group’s senior vice president of fan experience. “Our Fan First Menu extends to every item on all menus across concessions. Every item has a Fan First approach — not stadium pricing, but Fan First pricing.”
In what Mercedes-Benz Stadium officials are calling a first for a major sports facility, Fan First pricing will not only apply to every item in the stadium, but also to every event that takes place there, including the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, SEC Championship game, the College Football National Championship coming in 2018 and the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2020.
Pricing is just one area where Mercedes-Benz Stadium hopes to improve the fan experience when it comes to food, which, Gomes said, is the lowest scoring aspect of the game-day experience.
“There are four key areas that fans indicate are important to them: pricing, speed of service, variety and quality,” he said. “All four are underwhelming and fail to meet fan expectations. Our approach is to address those individually and holistically.”
Operational and design elements to improve speed include building more than 670 concession points-of-sale. Increased on-site kitchen and cooking capacity will not only increase the speed of service, but also freshness and quality. Whole-dollar menu pricing will mean less time exchanging pocket change. In addition, soda dispensers have been moved out of the concessions stands and onto the concourse so that fans can fill and refill cups themselves.
As for quality, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, in conjunction with concession partner Levy Restaurants, polled over 4,000 Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United fans to determine the types of food and the restaurants they would like to see as part of offers inside the venue. That led to 15 partnerships with Atlanta-based chefs, restaurants and restaurant groups.
Dubbed the Best of Atlanta, these partners range from iconic restaurant brands like the Varsity and Chick-fil-A to chef-driven concepts from Concentrics Restaurant group and also chef Kevin Gillespie, along with best-in-class and artisanal offerings from the likes of Farm Burger, Fox Bros. BBQ, King of Pops and Sublime Doughnuts.
In addition, Gomes says that prices for items from Best of Atlanta partners are not hiked up at the stadium. You won’t pay more for them than you would if you visited their brick-and-mortar restaurant. What’s more, you will find these brands easily. For example, you can get Fox Bros. BBQ on every level of the stadium, not just in one locale.
Variety also comes in beverage form. Beer lovers will find more local, craft beer.
“We are changing the game,” Gomes said of the organization’s approach to Fan First hospitality.
Mercedes-Benz will unveil some Best of Atlanta signature food items at a media event July 21.
The stadium opens on Aug. 26 when the Atlanta Falcons host the Arizona Cardinals for a preseason opener.