Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL) and the Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer (MLS), sets itself apart from other stadiums that typically raise prices for tickets, parking, facilities, food, and beverages. The state-of-the-art venue innovatively developed a low pricing strategy to enhance the stadium food experience and customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction achievement

As a 2017 NFL and MLS fan survey released Thursday (Jan. 25) revealed, Mercedes-Benz Stadium earned the highest rating for customer satisfaction from fans who enjoy the quality and value of food and beverages at the arena.

According to Steve Cannon, CEO of the Falcons and Atlanta United, and CEO of ABM Sports and Entertainment (ABM Group), Mercedes-Benz Stadium is at the top among other sports stadiums in all food-and-beverage categories, including price/value, quality, the speed of service, and variety. Over the last two years, Georgia Dome, the Falcons' previous home stadium, listed 18th as one of the best stadium experiences in the NFL.

Inexpensive concession offerings drive revenue growth for the Falcons. After Arthur Blank, the chairman of Falcons, launched the brand-new stadium in the summer of 2017, the vendor set prices that are affordable enough for customers to buy food items, including $2 hot dogs, $3 pizza slices, and $5 beer throughout the season.

However, while the stadium offers low-priced food items alongside the upmarket concessions, tickets to attend games, including personal seat licenses, become costly for season ticket holders compared to the previous stadium.

Low prices lead to more sales

In an effort to create more revenue, Blank discovered creative ways to lure customers by offering low-priced concession options that would allow them to enter the stadium earlier and stay longer. ABM Group, Blank's sports company, noted that the average amount spent by each fan on concessions increased by 16 percent, and the prices of concession dropped by 50 percent.

"I understand bringing kids to sporting events and saving up for tickets, and when you get inside you have to buy them food, and a hot dog that is $2 outside is suddenly $7 inside, and being frustrated by it," Blank stated, according to New York Times last week.

Fans in Atlanta grant Blank the credit for increasing fanbase through an effort to enhance the quality and value of the state-of-the-art stadium that sparks fan experience. The stadium has newer features in the surrounding area, including kitchens and other physical facilities. Prior to games, ten percent of fans arrived at the arena earlier.

While the Falcons' road to Super Bowl last season drew fans significantly, selling low-priced concession items seems to have a valuable effect on fan satisfaction. Chris Bigelow, a stadium concessions consultant, noted that 70 percent of NFL teams do not focus their efforts on revenue from food and beverage sales. Instead, most teams count on revenue growth from league-wide television, sponsorship and merchandise deals.

Pricing strategy success

The 2017 Team Marketing Report noted that the league's average selling price on food and beer was $5.19 and $7.38, respectively. The most expensive beer in the NFL was sold by the San Francisco 49ers for $10. The Atlanta stadium vendor partnered collaboratively with the stadium's concessionaire company, such as Levy Restaurants, to create a pricing strategy to set their prices in Atlanta stadium apart from standard prices in other NFL stadiums.

Blank successfully reached NFL fan satisfaction, thanks to his extensive experience as a co-founder of Home Depot. So far, no sports franchises have followed Blank's pricing strategy, but Cannon said, according to Bloomberg, team owners and venues have been inquiring for information and details on the pricing strategy.