Monday, February 26, 2007

Take me out to the Ballgame...and for snacks...

Volunteers from Liberalchurch work selling food at the Centerplate Concession booths at the Metrodome to help pay the mortgage for our place of worship. This story about fans' eating habits at the Metrodome caught my eye...

Hold the mayo, but not much else at Twins games:
An analysis of Twins fans' eating habits finds all of baseball's favorites -- beer, hot dogs and pop-- at the top of the list. But last year, a new bratwurst, served hot off the grill, hit a home run.
By Paul Levy, Star Tribune

Baseball fans eat and drink more at the Metrodome when the Twins are winning, they prefer draft beer to bottled, spend more on pop than on brats and hot dogs, and spend the most at concession stands on Tuesdays. And they love their ice cream -- possibly more than at any other major league ballpark.
A recent review of the Twins' concession sales for 2006, conducted by Centerplate Concessions, also showed that Twins fans will pay more for bratwursts if they are convinced they're buying a better product.
The Twins' attendance rose dramatically last year, improving 23 percent -- from 1,771,010 in 2005 to 2,183,326 last year. But money paid at concession stands jumped even more -- by 35 percent, which likely had more to do with the team's dramatic march to the playoffs.
"If the Twins are losing, people leave the games early," said Priscilla Goldstein, a senior scientist at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. "When the Twins win and you stay until the ninth inning, you spend more."
Goldstein, who said she attends a couple Twins games a year, preaches the importance of a nutritious diet. But she always has a hot dog and beer when she's at the Metrodome. "Have to," she said. "It's part of the game."
The combined sales of draft (16.66 percent) and bottled beer (16.3 percent) comprise one-third of the total concession sales at Twins games, according to Centerplate's study. The next largest selling items are soda (21.84 percent), then hot dogs and sausages (16.53 percent).
The percentage of beer sales at the climate-controlled Metrodome is low compared with those at other major-league stadiums, where July and August heat and humidity make for thirstier fans, said Matt Hoy, Twins' vice president of operations.
While brats may not create the same fervor at the Metrodome than they do at Milwaukee's Miller Park, folks at the Dome take their dogs seriously, the Centerplate report shows.
Disappointed by brat sales after the 2005 season, Centerplate asked Klements, a Milwaukee-based sausage company and Twins sponsor, to develop a larger, tastier grilled bratwurst, served directly off the grill. In previous seasons, brats were steamed, grilled, wrapped in foil and stored before being served to customers, said Chris Kohlmeier, Centerplate general manager.
"Now when the customer comes up, we pull the brat right off the grill," Kohlmeier said.
The improved brat came with a higher price -- from $4.25 in 2005 to $4.75 last year -- but fans were willing to pay for a top dog. Brat sales nearly doubled last year -- from 55,351 in 2005 to 92,045 in 2006.
"It's a grilled product, and within the industry that's known as display cooking," said Hoy, of the Twins. "People like to buy food that is prepared in front of them, food that they know hasn't been sitting around."
Much of that food is purchased on Tuesday nights, when fans spend an average of $8.31 at concession stands. Fans spend the least on Wednesdays, an average of $6.62.
Those figures are misleading, said Hoy and Kohlmeier, because they don't account for discounts such as "dollar dog" nights or promotions that might include four hot dogs and four sodas with four tickets. Promotions on Tuesdays are rare, and beer sales are generally low on Sundays and Thursdays, when day games are often played.
Ice cream sells any time of the day at the Dome, but particularly from the third inning on, Hoy said. "From my understanding, we sell more ice cream than any other stadium," he said. "Go to that stand between Sections 129 and 131 and by the third inning, the line for ice cream is five deep. By the sixth inning, it stretches down the hall."
Ice cream accounts for 5.45 percent of Twins' concession sales. Snacks (peanuts and Cracker Jacks) are next at 4.41 percent and completing the list are nachos at 4.14 percent.
"I'm not hearing about many fruits and vegetables," said Lisa Harnack, associate professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota. "But if you go to a game, you have to have fun. This is what the fans must want."

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