Concessions operations at sporting events have always been more or less “grab and go” in the sense that items were pre-prepared to accommodate quick transactions for fans wanting to get back to their seats. With the maturing of point-of sale systems that allow customers to forego the checkout process and literally “just walk out” with their purchases, a new level of convenience that can drive additional sales has opened and major concessions operators are taking advantage.
These systems were sporadically rolled out over the past year in NFL stadiums and NBA and NHL arenas and are proliferating with the opening of the 2023 Major League Baseball season, driven by the maturing technology and by business factors like the need to provide convenience in order to boost sales and by the labor shortage that has hit venue concessions operations particularly hard. The result is expected to be significant growth in sales of the kinds of grab and go items that automated retail outlets stock.
Delaware North was among the first in the business to eliminate the traditional belly-up concessions model in favor of a market-style experience that can be tailored to accommodate self-service, frictionless and autonomous checkout models, all aimed at improving speed of service and returning fans to the action—something that will be even more important as MLB transitions to faster, pitch-timed play. The company, which also was the first to bring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology to sports venues with its launch of the technology at Boston’s TD Garden in 2021, now features everything in its Just Walk Out locations from convenience-oriented snacks and beverages to hot, prepared meals designed to reduce crowds to allow fans to quickly get back to the action.
For this MLB season, Delaware North is opening two convenience-oriented foodservice outlets equipped with Just Walk Out technology and Amazon One automated checkout at Globe Life Field in Dallas, making it the first in a Dallas-area sports and entertainment venue equipped with those technologies. Offerings include cheeseburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, sausage and corn dogs, along with an assortment of packaged beer, spiked seltzers, soda, bottled water, chips, candies and sundries.
A case study Delaware North conducted of 66 events at the Boston arena indicates Just Walk Out zones drove higher throughput, higher fan spending and higher revenue than traditional concession stands. Today, Delaware North has 10 locations with Amazon Just Walk Out, with more on the way, including three new locations in time for MLB’s 2023 Opening Day.
Meanwhile, Aramark is bringing Just Walk Out technology to Coors Field in Denver and rolling out grab-and-go service models paired with near-contactless checkout technology to get fans their favorite stadium eats fast at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park in a Mashgin-powered market and Fan Favorite Express locations, plus a Walk Thru Blu walkthrough beer market. Walk Thru Bru will also expand its presence with 13 new Mashgin units at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Citi Field in New York, Fenway Park and Minute Maid Park in Houston, and Aramark is now also offering kiosk ordering at the Fenway Favorites location at Boston’s Fenway Park with Tapin2 kiosks that provide a digital interface of menus and self-checkout at the tap of a finger. Fenway Park will also feature four self-dispensing popcorn machines with self-checkout capabilities at Sox Pop locations.
Also this spring, Sodexo Live! Is adding three more Walk- Off Market locations at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park in addition to the venue’s flagship location, giving T-Mobile Park the most walk-out style markets out of any ballpark in the country.