(CNN) – Buy me more than just some peanuts and cracker jacks. As a new season begins for major league baseball, clubs are stepping up fan fare in an effort to drive in more revenue.
Crab hush puppies, buffalo chicken mac, and three different biscuits. While the Washington Nationals spent the off-season building a better pitching rotation, Nationals park executive chef Dave Peterson spent it crafting a ballpark menu, “As soon as the playoffs end, we’re in the kitchen, we’re testing hundreds of recipes. Not all make the cut, but that’s the fun part of our job.”
You can still buy a hot dog and a pretzel, but venues are giving fans more gourmet options, international fare, over-the-top concoctions and to foodies, names on the menus, as big as the names on the diamond.
Nationals chief revenue and marketing officer Valerie Camillo says it’s not meant to overshadow what’s on the field, but enhance it, “I think we view ourselves as a baseball team first, but we’re an entertainment property and we look at everything, from the experience shopping, to the visual experience, does the park present its self in ways that are pleasing to guests.”
Especially if fans are willing to pay more for the higher end experience. The Mets got their gourmet concessions rolling when shake shack signed on for Citi field’s inaugural season in 2009.
Like the Nationals, the team benefits from a newer ballpark. Mets executive vice president Lou Depaoli says it opened up new opportunities, “You really could learn from what the latest trends were in the sports business and what our fans were telling us they wanted.”
This year the Mets will add offerings from celebrity chef Josh Capon to a culinary line up that’s stacked with steak, lobster rolls, and cannoli.
“You’re no longer going just going to think of eating a cold hot dog and a flat beer. It’s something that the foodies can come to the ballpark. Even if you don’t want if you don’t want to enjoy the game, you can come and enjoy some great food,” said executive chef Robert Flowers.
Finding creative ways to draw that casual fan is especially crucial to the Mets, the rare MLB club that shares its city.
Copyright CNN 2015