Teams perpetually look for new ways to bring fans to the ballpark, and that includes creative food offerings. Successfully launching those new food and beverage efforts in the COVID era while moving into a new ballpark makes the Beloit Sky Carp (High-A Central) 2021 Ballpark Digest Awards winner for Best New Food and Beverage.
(Sky Carp? Yes. While tackling a move to a new ballpark and the introduction of new food and beverage offerings, the team also undertook a branding; read more about it here.)
The Sky Carp partnered with Geronimo Hospitality to revamp their food and beverage options. The goal? To turn the team’s ballpark fare into a dining destination.
“We just wanted to elevate the experience and bring awesome food to the ballpark,” said Blair Schmitz, General Manager of Food and Beverage Operations for Geronimo Sports and Entertainment. “Downtown Beloit has undergone a revitalization over the past couple of years. We wanted to be involved in that and bring restaurant-quality food to the ballpark.”
The theme for their delicious new creations? Wisconsin Fair Food.
“How do we bring crazy state fair food that’s wild and fun but that is also a high-quality product?” Schmitz said. “We were thinking about what kinds of things people love. Here in Wisconsin, that’s cheese curds, corn dogs and Old-Fashioneds.”
New Takes on Old Favorites
Several items stood out to us, including an elevated take on a Wisconsin ballpark staple, Bratchos: tortilla chips with a beer cheese sauce, grilled bratwurst, pickled red onion, sweet and sour cabbage with garlic aioli. The Old-Fashioned slushie nails the taste of a Wisconsin supper-club staple—brandy sweet, of course.
There’s also a new take on chicken and waffles.
“It’s a waffle cone filled with popcorn chicken, hot sauce and pickles,” Schmitz said. “It’s great because you have sweet, savory, a little hot sauce, and a little ranch if you want.”
And for dessert, another indulgent take on fair food: funnel-cake fries (shown above), but be prepared for a sugar rush. It includes whipped cream, Hershey’s chocolate, marshmallows, Fruity Pebbles, sprinkles and a cherry on top. Schmitz says it’s the most requested item at ABC Supply Stadium.
Geronimo brought in Chef Matthew Austin to come up with ideas, and he knew exactly who he was creating this for: “He said he imagined seeing a little kid walking around the ballpark covered in whipped cream with a big smile on their face,” Schmitz said.
But you’ll still be able to find all your favorites around ABC Supply Stadium. (We visited the ballpark both for a press preview and Opening Night. Here’s a look both at the ballpark and the concessions lineup.)
“It’s great to have new items, but we also need to be able to deliver on the classics,” Schmitz said. “We still have peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jack for the traditionalists, but we also have new versions for the foodies out there.”
In addition, the team gives back to the community with a revolving rotation of local food trucks that set up during games.
“We have Food Truck Alley where we invited vendors to come in. They have menu items like barbecue and tamales and things like that. We’re able to support local business owners but it also gives our fans new options to try.”
A Stepping Stone to 2022
The group is already hard at work coming up with ideas for the 2022 season, especially with the team announcing their new rebrand.
“We’ve moved into ABC Supply Stadium and we’re looking at things we can do better,” Schmitz said. “Now, we’re looking at the Sky Carp and figuring out how we can tie that into new items for the 2022 season.”
2021 Ballpark Digest Award Winners
2021 Editor’s Choice Award: Jesse Cole and the Savannah Bananas
2021 Promotion of the Year: The Wonders reunite at Erie SeaWolves game