Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kan. (Photo Credit: Nate Saathoff)

In partnership with Legends Hospitality, Sporting Kansas City has announced price decreases for a variety of food and beverage items at Children’s Mercy Park ahead of the 2017 Major League Soccer season.

Sporting KC and Legends Hospitality, the food and beverage operator at Children’s Mercy Park, have lowered prices on bottled water, soda and beer by an average of 20 percent from 2016.

“We’ve looked through our feedback, and all areas of the business, including fan experience and atmosphere, and engagement at the park has been the key driver for this initiative,” said Jake Reid, president of Sporting KC. “Much of the feedback we received was about the expensive pricing, particularly around our beverages.”

Margaritas, double cocktails and menu items, such as hot dogs, bratwursts, chips and grilled cheese sandwiches, will also be available at lower costs. New pricing for menu items will be in effect for the entire 2017 season.

At press time, only one game with the reduced concession prices had been held, but the immediate feedback has been positive.

Sporting KC worked with Legends and its data and analytics team, which resulted in a 17 to 24 percent price reduction across the board, or about 20 percent on average, for food and beverages.

“We anticipate losing some revenue, but expect an increase in volume,” said Reid. “We don’t have plans to make up for any shortfall at this time. We’re betting on the future rather than the money we’re giving up now.”

A small number of venues have experimented with food and beverage price reductions over the years, mainly during the recession of 2008. This included Texas’ Petco Park, which had a couple lower-priced concession stands during this period.

“Everyone talks about the high cost of going to an event, but food and beverage is a small piece of the puzzle when compared to ticket and parking prices,” said Chris Bigelow, president of The Bigelow Cos. Inc., Naples, Fla., consultants to the sports, entertainment and convention markets.

Experts question whether lowering one item or a group of items will get more customers into a venue.

“We haven’t seen any data that suggests people buy more when prices are lower,” said Bigelow. “If concessionaires start seeing that, and see overall gross sales rise, then we’ll see [price decreases] more often.”

Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta also recently announced “street pricing” in an attempt to make its food and beverages more affordable.

This includes soft drinks, bottled water, hot dogs, pretzels and popcorn for $2 and pizza slices, nachos, waffle fries and bags of peanuts for $3. A 12-ounce cup of domestic beer is priced at $5.
“It’s easier for NFL [National Football League] teams to reduce prices than others that rely on the revenue,” said Bigelow.

Reid said at some point the prices will be re-evaluated.

“There is a tipping point where it doesn’t make sense, but we felt like leveling out was the right move for us right now,” he said.

Children’s Mercy Park Food and Beverage Price Decreases

ITEM 2016 2017 Decrease
16-oz. Boulevard cans $8.50 $7 -$1.50
16-oz. Boulevard drafts $8.50 $7 -$1.50
24-oz. Boulevard drafts $10 $8.50 -$1.50
25-oz. Boulevard Growlers $13 $10 -$3
16-oz. Anheuser-Busch premium drafts $9 $7 -$2
24-oz. Anheuser-Busch drafts $10 $8 -$2
25-oz. Anheuser-Busch cans $10 $8 -$2
Bottled soda $5.50 $4.50 -$1
20-oz. Dasani water $5 $4 -$1
1 L SmartWater $6.50 $5.50 -$1
12-oz. double cocktails $15 $14.50 -$0.50
Margaritas $8.50 $7 -$1.50
Hot dogs $5.50 $5.25 -$0.25
Bratwursts $6 $5.50 -$0.50
Chips $3 $2.50 -$0.50
Traditional grilled cheese $8 $7 -$1
Bacon grilled cheese $10 $9 -$1