Dynamo Finish Food Upgrades

Revamp of BBVA Compass Stadium concessions incorporates tastes of Houston venue's neighborhood

  • by Don Muret
  • Published: February 27, 2018

A rendering shows new concessions offerings at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. (Courtesy Levy)

Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo and its concessionaire, Levy, have completed a revamp of concessions at BBVA Compass Stadium, focusing more on Latin flavors, beer gardens and barbecue.

The $1 million in food upgrades, a cost shared by the team and the vendor, completes a two-phase project that began opening last season at the facility, also home to the Houston Dash of the National Women's Soccer League.

For 2018, the "Taste of EaDo" theme, named for the neighborhood where the stadium sits, extends to the building's north side with multiple concepts Levy developed in-house, said Juan Rodriguez, the Dynamo's executive vice president and general manager.

This season, the eight new concessions in the north end include El Parque, a small beer garden; Diesel's Corner, a kids zone named for the Dynamo mascot, featuring a food hall designed for small children; and Pitch 25, a bar named for the uniform number worn by Brian Ching, an ex-Dynamo standout and former member of the U.S. men's soccer team.  Zamora Taco, Houston Q and Diggity Dawgs Too, a second location for the popular hot dog concept that kicked off last season in the south end, are also among the new stands opening Saturday for the Dynamo's season opener against Atlanta United FC.

BBVA Compass Stadium opened in May 2012, and over the past six years, EaDo, an abbreviation for "east of downtown," has gone through a major redevelopment that has added new restaurants, lofts and apartment buildings, and craft breweries, Rodriguez said.

The Dynamo and Levy adapted that theme to the stadium. Over the past two years, the team, working closely with Levy's E15 analytics division and Curiology design agency, ran fan surveys to get ideas for improving the food operation. In the U.S., Houston has the second-largest Hispanic population behind Los Angeles, and the Dynamo have 10 players from Central America and South America. Fans requested a greater variety of ethnic foods to reflect their tastes and those of the local neighborhood.

The first phase of food upgrades resulted in double-digit increases in per caps across the new spaces, Levy officials said. The Tecate Social, a four-sided outdoor bar, turned into one of the most popular destinations, drawing a heavy concentration of fans to congregate in the south end.

In addition, last year Levy began re-engineering food stands to create faster speed of service, and officials designed a walk-in market-style location where 70 percent to 80 percent of sales are beverages, said Marty Price, the company's regional vice president.

Price, who worked for both Aramark and the Houston Astros before joining Levy, said it's a simple story to tell.

"As an operator, I've been part of BBVA for five years now," he said. "I've learned a lot about MLS and that the selling time is so much shorter, even compared with hockey. We worked real hard to redo the stands and improve speed of service. Before, it took too long to get through the lines. The stands were basic concessions, with more of a small college feel. [The Dynamo initially] spent the money in the premium spaces. Now, we've created a lot more concession spaces to hang out before and after the game."

Apart from concessions, the Pitchside Patio, a new premium group space, makes its debut this season at field level in the stadium's southeast corner. The indoor lounge and private bar, which replaces old general admission seats, sits less than 15 feet from the pitch, Rodriguez said. It's an extension of the Pitchside Bar, a public bar and social hub that opened last year on the south end.

  • by Don Muret
  • Published: February 27, 2018