From Miami to DC, and Chicago to LA, ballparks across the country are welcoming fans en masse for the first time since the last out of the 2019 season. While grandstands won’t yet welcome sellout crowds to begin the season, most Major League venues will host between 5,000 and 12,000 fans per game, depending on local guidelines and restrictions.
Simply put, Baseball Opening Day and Week will be the first time in more than a year when fans across the country will collectively support their teams in-person. And, the ballpark experience may look quite different. Health and safety remains top priority, and venues will continue to prioritize social distance and contactless service. Tech-enabled food & beverage service fans have become accustomed to outside the venue – like mobile ordering and self-service markets – will result in more frictionless experiences on a significant scale at each venue. Fans will find one familiar tradition intact, however: the unmistakable flavor and flair of ballpark eats, with several venues introducing new signature dishes fans can savor on game day.
With baseball season officially underway, below is a look at how Levy’s ballpark venue partners welcome back fans.
Creating Safe Game Day Environments
Health and safety remains top priority as fans and team members return. Among the protocols fans can expect at most ballparks: more mobile and self-service food and beverage options in concessions (more below), fully-enclosed packaging, signage and stanchions to control traffic flow, and new models for suite and club dining. That includes attendants to serve guests at chef tables, assigned dining times in all-inclusive spaces, and individual QR codes to enable faster, precise order fulfillment in suites.
Creating a safe environment also means giving hospitality team members the resources and support to feel confident and comfortable. Achieving that confidence takes a blend of measures before team members arrive at the venue, and during each shift. Protocols in place at most Levy ballparks include pre-shift health assessments and temperature screenings, use of face coverings at all times, and front of house spaces re-organized to spread out crowds, among others. Levy has developed health and safety best practices for all venues based on guidance from the CDC, FDA and local and state health authorities.
Delivering Frictionless Experiences Through Scaled-Up Mobile Ordering and Self-Service
The accelerated adoption of mobile app-based and online ordering over the past year, combined with the need to increase speed of service to safely welcome fans has resulted in reimagined food and beverage experiences at ballparks across the country.
Mobile ordering in general concessions and premium seating sections launches on an unprecedented scale spanning the majority of food and beverage locations in each stadium. Fans will be able to order through a variety of mobile apps or online at most venues. Early results have shown mobile transactions cut wait times by up to 30% compared to traditional transactions at the same location, and that may get faster as mobile deploys at a larger scale.
QR codes with order-to-pay capability expand access to mobile ordering. Fans who have not yet downloaded mobile apps can order on the spot with QR code signage throughout the venue. QR codes will also be utilized to track orders to each seat in suites and clubs.
Self-service markets spread throughout the venue offer more access points for the most in-demand food and beverage items. Fans can walk up, choose their items, and checkout, keeping foot traffic moving and getting fans back to their seats faster.
Getting Back to our Roots – Incredible, Memorable Dining Experiences
The grand tradition of creating game day memories through ballpark eats will make its way back this season. Several venues return with new signature dishes and experiences that highlight a wide variety favorite local cuisines, ingredients, restaurants and chefs. Many more will continue to roll-out new menus as the season progresses.
Dodger Stadium celebrates its grand re-opening with a brand new Centerfield Plaza that will house an incredible variety of new dining concepts and favorite local names. The menu throughout the stadium will also feature several distinctly LA flavors, such as the Michelada Sausage (Michelada-spiced sausage with citrus slaw, finished with tajin and Chamoy nut crumble), Burnt End Nachos (12 hour-smoked brisket, nacho cheese, BBQ sauce, pickled jalapeños, and pickled red onions on fresh tortilla chips), and a new Brisket Sandwich (12 hour-smoked brisket, coleslaw, habanero BBQ sauce, pickled red onions on a brioche bun).
Chase Field, always a spark of culinary innovation in concessions, has several new Southwest-themed dishes, including a Poblano Cheesesteak, 505 Green Chile, Chicken, Bacon, and Ranch Tots, and a new local Danzeisen Dairy Chocolate Mint Chip Stack Shake.
Nationals Park debuts a new outpost of Fuku, with its signature Fuku Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Fuku Fingers. The venue will also feature sandwiches, nachos, and tacos from favorite local chefs and restaurants Grazie Grazie (Casey Patten) and Taqueria del Barrio (Anna Bran Leis).
Marlins Park (recently-dubbed Loan Depot Park) opens with a streamlined menu, but fans can still find two of South Florida’s most acclaimed restaurants in SuViche and PINCHO Latin Kitchen. SuViche offers its signature Marlins Roll and PINCHO its classic PINCHO Burger.
Fans across the country can expect menus to expand with new culinary experiences throughout the season.