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Upping the fan experience with branded ballpark restaurants

Angel Stadium concessions, 1960s

As MLB and MiLB teams work to enhance the fan experience, one key building block is the addition of branded restaurants within the ballpark — with restauranteurs retaining much control over the offerings.

Branded restaurants within the ballpark aren’t new — the New York Mets have offered Shake Shack snacks at Citi Field since 2009, and the Philadelphia Phillies have a wide array of local offerings from branded restaurants — but in the past these have typically been licensed offerings, with the local concessionaire (Delaware North, Centerplate, Ovations) running operations and retaining total control of the experience.

In the past few years we’ve seen the restaurant partners exert more control over the ballpark restaurant experience; after all, it’s their brand on the line, and while ballpark concessionaires have in general upped their game in the last five or so years, restaurant partners are much more active in daily operations, whether it be designing a menu or training staff. In the case of Chronic Tacos, an Angel Stadium concession, involvement is key to shaping the brand experience:

“With the Angels organization, we finally felt that we had found the right fit for our brand,” said [Mike Mohammed, CEO of Chronic Tacos]. “The stadium location in Anaheim is in our backyard and a lot of Angels fans are already familiar with Chronic Tacos brand. That connection is invaluable to bringing those fans back to the restaurants and introducing our experience to new fans. When fans attend a game, they see us as a unique experience within that venue that can also be enjoyed outside of the venue, so it’s important to make the connection there.”

Chronic Tacos may eventually partner with other venues but only if it makes sense for the brand, Mohammed said.

“Our company has a very positive relationship with Angel Stadium, and the goal is to find other organizations that continue our growth. With our focus on quality and authenticity for the customer we have to continue to be very strategic about where we expand,” he said.

You can expect more of this in coming years; this year alone the Minnesota Twins added a sit-down restaurant in a partnership with local foodie favorite Barrio, and we suspect the construction at Target Field isn’t done.

Image of Anaheim Stadium concessions in 1960s.

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