The San Francisco 49ers are 6-0 for the first time since 1990 and stadium attendance has been strong, but that hasn’t stopped the club’s front-office from seeking ways to improve the game day experience. On Monday (Oct. 21), the NFC West team announced it would become the first in American pro sports to include food and non-alcoholic beverages as a standard season ticket holder benefit (most stadiums only offer the perk to premium seat holders). Come 2020, all 49ers season ticket ‘members’ and their guests will have access to an inclusive (see: FREE) menu – featuring at least 15 of Levi Stadium’s most popular concession items (think: chicken tenders, nachos and sausages) – at every home game. Fans who purchase seats on a single game basis or through the secondary market will continue to buy F&B a la carte. The venue’s hospitality provider – Levy – will help curate both the menu and customer experience.
Fan Marino: The idea for this innovative offering originated out of hundreds of thousands of fan service scores that the team received over the last five years. 49ers president Al Guido said the surveys and “those reflecting the entirety of the NFL” show that the lowest scores are associated with how season ticket holders feel about the in-stadium food and beverage experience. The team believes that enhancing the value of a season ticket and providing a frictionless concession experience are the two most effective ways to make the fan happy.
There certainly was no need for the 49ers to give their fans more bang for the buck. The team has a 98% season ticket renewal rate since Levi’s Stadium opened in ’14 and has sold out its first two home games this season. But the organization places an emphasis on ‘fan satisfaction’ and this initiative has been in the works for much of the last two years. The timing of the announcement just so happens to coincide with the team playing undefeated football.
The value-add won’t drive up the cost of a season ticket significantly, either. The price of the average seat is only expected to rise by $20. It should be noted that the club hasn’t raised ticket prices since moving into the building six years ago.
The Atlanta Falcons have received a ton of publicity for league-low pricing on concessions and have been recognized for the way they have managed the operation. Guido said the 49ers unlimited plan is designed to help “get people back to their seats for ‘the hero feature’ even faster – which is the NFL game. We want the players on the field to have the best home field advantage possible.” The new process for ‘Members’ removes much of the friction associated with the purchase of stadium concessions.
It remains TBD if all-inclusive season tickets will spread across the sports world. Industry insiders say this type of offering is harder to do in MLB, the NBA or the NHL where there is a large number of games and a high fan turnover rate each night. Guido said that “roughly 90% of our building is packed with season ticket members. That allows for a certain cadence on the service side that other teams [or leagues] may not be afforded.”