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The Atlanta Falcons listened

Steve DeLay's picture


It's about time.

A major professional sports team finally listened to fans and said let's make concession prices fair and reasonable.

The Atlanta Falcons announced concession pricing for their new stadium and lo and behold, they are surprisingly fair and reasonable. The Atlanta Journal Constitution article is here. $2 sodas with free refills? $2 hotdogs? $5 beers? How dare they set such precedents of being fan friendly?

The Falcons are thinking the right way. They'll make their money off the ticket prices. Fans will renew because of a competitive team and a great fan experience. The Falcons want fans talking about the team, the stadium and the experience, not how much a beer costs.

As a point of reference, I went to another NFL stadium last year to watch my Cleveland Browns play. The game ticket was $100. A a little much but it was a special event. I didn't mind it. What really ticked me off was the concession prices. $12 for a draft beer? That same draft was $4 at the bar we went to before the game. $7 for a 20oz soda. That same soda was $1.50 at the 7-11 after the game. $7 hotdogs? I could buy the package of hotdogs, the buns, the ketchup and mustard at the store for that. When friends asked me about the game (which was terrific and went down to the last second), all I could talk about was how I felt ripped off because of the concession prices. There is no point of comparison for a ticket to a sporting event. There is for concessions.

I get it. I've been in sports my entire life. We have to make some money off concessions but let's not rip fans off. I'm involved with a team in Savannah, GA in the Coastal Plain League, the Savannah Bananas. The team has set up ticket packages and group packages where anyone buying a group of 10 or more or anyone buying a 5-game plan or more gets unlimited food and drinks (non-alcoholic) for the entire game. The price, a perfectly reasonable $15/person. You can't go to a movie and buy M&Ms for $15 any more. You can see the plans by clicking here

When the sales staff goes on sales calls or the team executives explain the program, people ask, "How do you make any money off people then?" We tell dubious buyers that our success will be made or broken based on ticket sales, not how many hot dogs we sell. No team owner has ever asked me, "How much soda did we sell at last night's game?" They ask, "What was your attendance?"

Does it work? The team is going to set attendance records for the Coastal Plain League. I'm not saying big league teams need to go to the level of all-you-can-eat like the Bananas but take a moment and stop and think about what is in your team's long-term best interest. Getting tickets sold and creating a terrific fan experience so they come back time and time again. Think long-term, not short-term gouging. The Falcons and Bananas are doing it right.

Steve DeLay is co-author with Jon Spoelstra of "The Ultimate Toolkit to Sell the Last Seat in the House" and "The Ultimate Toolkit - Sponsorships" being used by more than 170 teams around the country to raise revenue in sponsorships and tickets. You can reach Steve at or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeLay2.

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