Atlanta Falcons fans might encounter sticker shock when they attend their first game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium next year. That's because the team announced Monday that it will offer what will amount to the lowest concession prices at the major-sports-team level.
A bottomless soda, which will come with free and unlimited refills, will cost $2 -- the same cost as a bottle of water, popcorn and a pretzel. A slice of pizza, peanuts and fries will be $3 each, while a cheeseburger will cost $5. A chicken tenders basket will cost $6.
"We'll be able to feed a family of four at our games for $27," said Steve Cannon, CEO of the AMB Group, the family of businesses owned by Arthur Blank that includes the Falcons, Atlanta United and the new stadium that will open in 2017. "That's 60 to 70 percent cheaper than our competitors."
Cannon said the team had a discussion as to how low it could go on the beer, so as not to hurt the fan experience, and arrived at $5 for a 12 ounce cup of a product such as Bud Light.
"In any fan survey, food and beverage is one of the most important drivers of fan experience and the one that is the most broken," Cannon said. "It's either lack of quality, lousy delivery or bloodcurdling pricing."
Cannon said the pricing was arrived at by studying the greater Atlanta marketplace and, at the very least, matching the prices that fans would pay in the area in everyday life.
The Falcons hope to make up some of the money lost on typical margins by doing volume. There will be 670 concession points in the new stadium, which is 65 percent more availability than the team has in the Georgia Dome. Soda refill stations will be separate from lines for those ordering for the first time. Prices, including tax, are right on the dollar, meaning there's no change to be made, thus speeding up the transaction time.
The prices also could serve as an incentive for fans to buy tickets. While Cannon said the concession prices aren't to achieve a greater goal, the Falcons have had a harder time selling seats in the upper bowl for its new stadium. The most expensive seats, $45,000 PSLs on the 50-yard line, are sold out.
Unlike most teams, selling concession rights in exchange for guaranteed cash, Blank -- who had often talked about making concession prices match those offered to patrons at Augusta National for the Masters -- didn't make that deal. Instead, his company forged an operator relationship with Levy Restaurants that comes with a flat management fee. That allowed the team creativity to make the drastic change.
Cannon said the stadium will have premium food items as well, as deals are currently being negotiated with Atlanta's top chefs and restaurateurs. He said that those prices also will match what the items cost in the outside world without additional markup.
The prices will be the same for concerts and other events in the stadium, including the 2018 College Football Playoff Title Game and the 2020 Final Four.