CNN just run a piece about a mildly disturbing trend in spectator sports leagues such as the MLB, NHL, NBA and NASCAR. Say hello to “All-you-can-eat seats.” It sounds pretty nifty from a business perspective to charge customers a premium for tickets that eliminate the hassle of clambering over multiple knees to get to the unbelievable line at the concession stands. That’s the idea behind these “all-you-can-eat seats.”
For about 50 percent more than the price of a regular ticket, sports fans can get their fill of hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, and sodas from a more exclusive concession stand situated right by the seats.
Customers will usually receive some manner of identification such as a wristband that entitles them to keep coming back for more.
It appears that this service has been a homerun with baseball teams; almost half of the 30 MLB teams have adopted it. This compares to nine teams in the NHL and six in the NBA. The NFL is yet to jump on the bandwagon but NASCAR certainly has.
Usually, my gut reaction would have been to talk about how disappointing the public health implications of initiatives like this were... and there’s nothing unusual about today. However, I tried to step off the moral high horse for a bit to think it through with my rather unfortunate dearth of baseball know-how:
Let’s say I paid $50 for a Red Sox game – Right Field Box seats. Over the course of a three-hour game, I may entertain a Fenway Frank ($4.00), an Italian Sausage ($6.00), some peanuts ($4.00), and maybe 2 bottles of water (2X $3.00) and a Guiness ($6.00?). A grand total of $76. Had I spent $75 for “all-you-can-eat seats, I could have added some Cracker Jacks, a Diet Coke and some more peanuts at no extra cost.
I’d say the deal was cost effective for baseball fare. My gripe however lies in the fact that it’s only the unhealthy stuff that can be purchased in large enough bulk for the retailers to see a good enough ROI to offer this deal. You are much less likely to see the $8.75 turkey or chicken caeser wraps or the 4.75 fruit cups on the buffet menu.
And besides, isn’t queuing supposed to be part of the whole experience of going to a game? Isn’t it more or less akin to going to an amusement park without lines? Oh well, I guess it’s better than not getting up from the couch at all.