Concession to High Concessions
When you go to an American sporting event, you can usually expect to see two things: crazy fans and crazy high concession stand prices. Over the past few decades, concession prices have been steadily rising much faster than the consumer price index, and almost every other possible measure of inflation; because stadium owners know that—for three hours or so—they have an absolute monopoly on their fans’ food and beverage needs, fans are often taken advantage of, and demanded to pay prices for concessions far beyond typical market values. Fans have responded by trying to find ways around such high prices by either binging beforehand or sneaking food into games, but in doing so, the fan-going experience has been compromised.
Finally, teams are starting to take notice of their fans’ woes, and adapt. Some teams, such as the Kansas City Royals, have recently started trying to fill their stadiums by offering special pricing, such as $1 hotdogs at Friday home games. Other teams, such as the Atlanta Falcons—who will are in the process of completing a new (Mercedes-Benz) stadium that will open in 2017—have promised their fans reasonable, fan-friendly pricing on all future concessions.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank said recently, “The number one thing [the fans] griped about was food,” and in response, the Falcons proposed a new pricing philosophy to “…let [our prices] reflect a little bit of what the street price is—what do you pay for a hotdog on the street.” The Falcons have proposed $2 hotdogs, $2 refillable sodas, and $3 fries as the basis of their new street-market pricing scheme.
Other stadiums across the country are still slower to catch on to street-market pricing, and often charge 500% or even greater markups on food that leaves fans’ stomachs half-full, and wallets completely empty; but if such a philosophy succeeds in Atlanta, perhaps owners elsewhere will eventually take notice.
For now, consumers that are tired of paying high prices need to make their voices heard—reach out to your favorite sports team and tell the team that you hope to see changes to their concession pricing in the near future. If food is to be considered fare, so too should the pricing.