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One-on-one: Mike Gomes, Senior Vice President of Fan Experience at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Stadia Magazine

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Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Photo Source: Stadia Magazine

When Mercedes-Benz Stadium became the new home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and MLS side Atlanta United in 2017, not only did it showcase a ground-breaking design, it also introduced a novel food and beverage initiative to raise fan satisfaction.

In 2017 Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, became the new home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and MLS side Atlanta United. Not only did the US$1.6bn stadium showcase ground-breaking design such as its retractable roof, but a novel food and beverage initiative was introduced in an effort to raise fan satisfaction.

Fan First pricing saw the cost of favorite items slashed by 50%, yet despite lowering prices the MBS witnessed average fan spend and consumption both increase and its F&B ranking from fans raise from 18th in 2016 to first in 2017. Behind the new fan fare, Mike Gomes, senior vice president of fan experience at Mercedes-Benz stadium, spoke to Stadia about how the F&B offering went down.

Tell us how the Fan First program originated … 
If you look at fan feedback from research you notice that food and beverage is one of the most important factors [on game day], however we noticed the industry as a whole doesn’t perform well in terms of value, while quality and variety also isn’t great, plus fans are having to wait too long in line. This was the genesis of how we looked at food and beverage differently.

Before we ever broke ground on the new stadium we knew we wanted to introduce this. Owner and chairman Arthur Blank said, “We’re going to lower food so it’s fair for fans and family”.

So, in May 2016 we announced Fan First pricing where fan favorite food items would be sold at different prices: US$2 for hotdogs, pretzels, fries, and pizza, a US$2 refillable soda – more than a 50% decrease in prices from the Georgia Dome and more than 50% less than other stadiums charge.

How did the fans react? 
We’re seeing a much higher consumption model. By the end of the first quarter of an NFL game we’re seeing as much consumption as we used to see in a total game at the Georgia Dome. That’s approximately 140,000 units of food and beverage. Fans are buying more.

Whereas before fans would have to choose between this or that, now they can [buy] this and that. At the end of our first NFL and soccer season [at the stadium] we are number one in the league in all of the important metrics: food and beverage, quality, variety, speed of service, and value – so the fans have reacted very positively.

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Leftover Food From Falcons Games Feeds Hungry Folks in Metro Atlanta


Mitchell Northam
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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In a partnership with Second Helpings Atlanta, the AMB Group has donated 13,250 pounds of leftover food from games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to the hungry. Photo Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

With more than 190 suites in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, there’s a lot of really good food being made during football and soccer games to feed those fans.

But what happens to the grub that isn’t eaten? Is it just thrown away?

Nope. That food is repackaged and donated to those in need of a satisfying meal.

Arthur Blank’s AMB Group, which manages the stadium, has been partnering with Second Helpings Atlanta to create a food rescue program that saves unused high-quality food from those suites. The food is repackaged and delivered to the local community.

The first pick-up of the program happened on Aug. 27, and since then 10 more pick-ups have occurred, which has added up to 13,250 pounds of donated food. That total breaks down to 11,042 meals.

The meals delivered consist of prepared salads, boxed lunches and bakery treats.

Through Second Helpings Atlanta, meals are donated to six partner agencies: Veterans Empowerment Organization, Urban Recipe, Loaves & Fishes, the Salvation Army, True Worship, and City of Refuge. One week’s donation from the stadium to a Veterans Empowerment Organization provided 10 meals for more than 100 veterans.

Meals are also delivered to Atlanta Mission, Atlanta City Baptist Mission, Atlanta Dream Center, Our House, Hope House, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Gateway Center and St. Francis Table.

Read the full story here.


Kansas City Chiefs “Go Nuts” Over a Compostable Peanut Bag

Press Release
Aramark, Kansas City Chiefs, BASF, Hampton Farms

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First-of-its-kind environmentally friendly packaging for peanuts debuts at Arrowhead Stadium

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Arrowhead Stadium vendors will begin selling compostable peanut bags to fans in the Chiefs Kingdom on Nov 26.

KANSAS CITY, MO, and PHILADELPHIA, PA, November 14, 2017 – Football season is in full swing and the Kansas City Chiefs are going the extra yard by scoring a major victory for the environment. Thanks to a collaboration between BASF, Aramark and Hampton Farms, Arrowhead Stadium will become the first-ever professional sports venue to sell a pre-packed compostable peanut bag.

The compostable peanut bag is part of the Chiefs’ environmental initiative, “Extra Yard for the Environment,” which is designed to devise and implement new green policies for the Chiefs, while also raising awareness for sustainability efforts at Arrowhead Stadium. Debuting at the November 26th game, the compostable peanut bag will be sold throughout general concessions and in-seat vending, with the goal of expanding to other areas of Arrowhead Stadium following the pilot phase.
Why the need for a compostable peanut bag?

Snack food packaging comes in many different forms. With more than 15,000 bags of peanuts sold in concessions at Arrowhead Stadium each year, the Chiefs approached Aramark, the team’s general concessionaire, about finding ways to further advance the “Extra Yard for the Environment” program and Arrowhead’s waste-diversion methods.

When it comes to selling peanuts, Aramark’s roots run deep. The company’s founder began selling peanuts out of his car in 1932, laying the foundation for what would eventually become snack vending. Aramark now sells more than 1.1 million bags of peanuts annually at sporting events and, once again, is playing a role in transforming how peanuts are sold.

“With peanuts being among the best-selling snack foods at sports events, the introduction of this compostable peanut bag is a potential game-changer,” said Carl Mittleman, President of Aramark’s Sports and Entertainment division. “As the Chiefs partner and a food and beverage services industry leader, we’re proud to be at the forefront of driving innovative solutions that decrease our environmental impact and enhance the game day experience.”


Read the full story here.