With the 2020 season approaching and professional baseball teams finalizing their ballpark offerings, we expect to see three big trends make an impact on operations both for facilities pros and dedicated fans.
It’s no secret ballpark operations have followed larger societal plans when it’s come to concessions and seating options. That trend should continue in 2020, and we expect these three big trends to play out in professional baseball.
Continued rightsizing of facilities. New ballparks are getting smaller and smaller when it comes to capacity. Truist Park (the former SunTrust Park) opened with a total seating capacity of 41,500, while Globe Life Field opens in March with a capacity of 40,300, down from Globe Life Park’s capacity of 48,114. These ballparks aren’t actually getting smaller in terms of physical footprint: they’re being designed to allow more spaces for fans milling around and socializing during games. Expect to see some teams announce renovations that will cut capacity but add social and high-end spaces, as the Pittsburgh Pirates are doing at PNC Park for 2020.
More social spaces. Speaking of social spaces: Expect to see more added throughout both Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball. Adding social spaces at venues ranging from Target Field and Yankee Stadium to Pulaski’s Calfee Park have been winners, and several teams, including the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers, are adding more for 2020.
More varied concessions offerings. We’ve moved light years past a limited menu of hot dogs, popcorn and pop at the ballpark, with many teams both big and small expanding their concessions offerings to hit every price point and taste. Last year saw several teams, including the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, offer grab-and-go stands for those wanting to just duck in and out away from the action. An interesting prototype was unveiled last season at Citi Field by the New York Mets, where a self-checkout kiosk allowed fans to select foods and beverages from the Walk Thru Bru express self-checkout kiosk, completing their purchase with a single touch, and be on their way in seconds. The Mets partnered with concessionaire Aramark, CLEAR and Mashgin. Another food trend that we expect to see elevated in ballparks: more plant-based offerings. It’s a trend that moves past the soy dog and standard salad to incorporate plant-based burgers, sausages (the Twins have offered a local plant-based sausage in past seasons) and gluten-free offerings.
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