With five firms controlling concessions across MLB, we’re seeing the opposite in MiLB, as teams buck trends when it comes to ballpark food and drink–and that, in turn, creates opportunities for local entrepreneurs. Here’s how it’s being done in Beloit’s ABC Supply Stadium.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the big concessionaires in MLB ballparks: they’ve all upped their games in recent years and done a lot to bring in local chefs and vendors into local ballparks.
While it’s a little early to say it’s a trend, we’ve seen a few MiLB teams take back control of their concessions this season, and in some case opening the door to third-party local vendors. Take the case of ABC Supply Stadium, home of the Beloit Sky Carp (High-A; Midwest League), which opened last season with concessions from Beloit’s Geronimo Hospitality Group. (Disclaimer: Geronimo Hospitality Group is backed by Diane Hendricks, the Beloit businessperson who literally built ABC Supply Stadium.) Geronimo’s made its impact on the local Beloit dining scene after a strong 2021 debut at the ballpark, and is doing more with its business practice in Beloit in offering space during events to local independent vendors. From the Beloit Daily News:
It’s part of the reason Joeann Evans said she opened the Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company stand at the ABC Supply Stadium with her husband Dannie Evans. The Evanses and other budding business owners are selling a variety of foods as vendors in the stadium. With massive foot traffic through the new attraction, the entrepreneurs say they are not only growing their sales, but also getting the word out about their offerings and making plans for the future.
Maria Perez, the owner of CoCo’s Tamales who has been serving Mexican fare since she was 14 years old, said her setup at the stadium has significantly grown her business. Coco’s Tamales along with Lil Frank’s BBQ are in “food truck alley.”
For Perez, the biggest benefit is not selling tamales, but meeting people who are setting her up with catering gigs outside stadium hours.
It certainly doesn’t maximize team revenues to be sharing them with third-party vendors. But it’s hard to put a price on such a high level of community support.