Photo: Michael Glasgow, Flickr
Ballparks are always working on getting people in their seats. Lately they're reaching their fans through their stomachs with all-you-can-eat concessions -- a never-ending supply of nachos, hot dogs, popcorn and soda. These tickets cost around 50 percent more, usually ranging from around thirty to fifty bucks -- although they can run up to the two-hundred-dollar mark, according to USA Today -- and the trend has hit dozens of arenas, stadiums, and tracks.
At least one fan interviewed by Sports Illustrated is all for it. Matthew Cavalier recently took in an Orioles game at Baltimore's Camden Yards, sitting way out in left field (so to speak) in order to take advantage of the pumped-up food options. Cavalier thinks some teams need that extra calorie boost to get their fan base into the stadium. "The Phillies, Yankees and all them are always going to be fine. They don't need to do this. But for fans of, say, this team, it's a good plan."
It also seems like a good deal -- from a strictly monetary point of view. Nutritionists take a more jaundiced look at the trend; just because you're allowed to eat "all" you can doesn't mean you should. "Anytime you have an open buffet, people are more likely to eat more and drink more," Lona Sandon, an American Dietetic Association spokesperson, told Sports Illustrated. "It's perceived as cost-effective. Well, not when it comes to your health." Perhaps in an effort to fend off public health criticisms, some parks include healthier fare among the fries and ice cream; Camden Yards, for example, has a salad offering. But -- really, now. When you're at a ballpark, are you thinking about salad?
Maybe part of the problem is in the marketing. "All-you-can-eat" doesn't have to be taken literally, pointed out Jack O'Brien, president of support services for Aramark, which provides food to ballparks across the country. "That's not the intent of the tickets," he explained to Sports Illustrated. "The [all-inclusive] tickets provide the experience of a ballgame without reaching in your pocket. You know that everything is taken care of." Everything except, perhaps, your diet goals.