From the moment someone filled a pig bladder with liquid and kicked it around as a ball, spectators immediately realized entertainment is better with food. As a kid, I discovered great enjoyment when watching my favorite TV shows (ABC’s TGIF line-up) with my favorite desserts (from the Drumsticks variety pack). This isn’t a new revelation, as people over the years have found enjoyment of the spectacle before them is amplified by a flavorful treat, and the treat’s enjoyment is amplified by the spectacle.
In a press release, food provider ARAMARK has announced it will expand the menu at this year’s MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium on July 13th. The company currently supplies food to 12 ballparks, each offering menu items unique to local tastes. For the All-Star Game, the fan experience will be amplified as, not only will the finest players in the league be present on the field, but the fan can sample various regional dishes. Among the offerings are burritos, New England lobster rolls, Maryland lump crab dogs, and Pittsburgh-style pastrami sandwiches.
This is a smart move for ARAMARK. Venues such as Angel Stadium in Anaheim and Citi Field in New York have amped up their game (no pun intended) by introducing foods not traditionally found in American ballparks. Angel’s fans can dine on marinated artichokes to sea bass to fresh sushi while watching Torii Hunter run the bases.
Coyle Hospitality-referred professional evaluators of sports stadiums reveal fans are just as concerned with menu options as they are with the game. Loyal fans will always support their team, and despite winning or losing seasons, it’s the concessions that remain a focal point for the guest experience. In the age of Top Chef and the proliferation of ethnic and regional cuisines, American palates have evolved considerably, and ballparks and stadiums need to respond accordingly. I will always be faithful to Chicago baseball, but I don’t feel a need to schlep out to Wrigley Field if I can have a better fan experience from my own kitchen.