David Wingate | Brown University
Sometimes I wish I were a Falcons fan. But not for the reasons one might expect.
It’s not Matt Ryan- the guy’s a great quarterback, and that image of him from college with a bra on his face never fails to make me giggle, even if it is photoshopped. But he’s a little too vanilla to turn me over. It’s not Julio Jones- he’s an out of this world receiver and makes some unreal circus catches, but I prefer my wide-outs to have ramen noodle hair and scandals every week (it’s a personal thing). It’s not even Dan Quinn, a young fiery coach that I respect the hell out of, even if he does look like a James Bond villain when his hat comes off.
No, I wish I were an Atlanta Falcons fan because I’m a hungry guy, and they’ve figured out how to enter a fan’s heart through their stomach. And not even in an Aztec ritual sacrifice way, though to be fair that would be a pretty wild halftime show.
Starting this past season, Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank introduced fan friendly prices to Mercedes-Benz Stadium concession stands. Sodas and hot dogs for $2, nachos for $3, and beer (beer!) for $5. In an age where your typical stadium snack might force you to take out a second mortgage, fans were delighted. Not only did sales go up by as much as 50%, but fan satisfaction with their food options shot to the top of the NFL. Overall concession revenue was down slightly due to the drop in prices, but Falcons administration believes that the overall net effects on profit are positive, as the lower prices encourage more spending in the stadium overall.
And maybe there’s something else appealing about the switch that doesn’t even need to do with profits. NFL tickets have gotten exorbitantly expensive, parking is a hassle, and honestly, you can get a pretty damn good experience watching the game at home. So having your favorite organization try to scalp you of every last dime for a couple of french fries feels like a raw deal. But Arthur Blank and the Falcons have turned the tide a little bit. Yes, teams should do their best to make a profit. But they should also be ensuring a positive fan experience. And as a fan who likes to maow down on stadium food while watching a ball game, my experience would be loads better with cheaper concessions (and cheaper beer). Take note Giants.
It remains to be seen whether this trend will take root across America’s sports leagues. My faith in owners to part with a few pennies in order to increase fan satisfaction isn’t high, I’ll admit. But my faith in owners to realize the good publicity they gain from such a move is a little stronger. Make the food cheap, make the fans happy, and make a fan’s experience more than just a bottom line.
Also if you want to start serving fried pickles at games, that would be also be chill.