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Could Lower Concessions Pricing Work for the Trail Blazers?

The Atlanta Hawks will make the switch to fan friendly concessions pricing next season. Could the Trail Blazers do the same?

Belgium v England: 3rd Place Playoff - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Dear Chris McGowan and the Trail Blazers,

The Atlanta Hawks are trying something interesting next year and I think you might want to pay attention. Check out these concessions prices:

Affordable food at a professional sporting event?! How can that be?!

Try It in Portland?

Chris, I’d like to humbly suggest that the Blazers try a similar pricing structure at the Rose Garden next season.

On the surface it might seem like a surefire way to lose money, but I’d argue that there’s a decent chance you’d break even or even increase profits. How would that happen? Simple. People who would otherwise spend little or no money at the game would be incentivized to spend literally infinitely more.

I’ve been going to Blazers games for longer than I care to admit (let’s just say my games attended stat is in the triple digits) and I don’t think I’ve spent collectively more than $20 in concessions in that time. Heck, I don’t remember the last time my friends/family bought anything either.

And I’m not alone. Any time this conversation comes up anecdotal evidence pours in from other fans with similar mindsets.

For example, I talked to one staffer at Blazer’s Edge who says he gives his kid a choice every year — they can go to six games during the season and buy no concessions or they can go to three games and splurge on food/drink. Every year the kid chooses more games and they spend nothing at the arena.

Twitter users had similar stories, including one fan who explained that it’s cheaper to pay for dinner and a traffic ticket at a nearby restaurant than it is to pay for concessions at the arena.

I can’t speak for all the BlazerManiacs, but I can tell you that I would absolutely be eating dinner during the Blazers game, and probably downing a couple beers, rather than making a pit stop at BurgerVille on the way home.

In this hypothetical world of fair pricing, I’d spend $20 extra every game I attend, possibly more. That’s $20 more than you’d usually get out of me. Now multiple that $20 by a few thousand. And then by 41. Your margins may decrease, but increased volume would at least maintain, and possibly increase, your profit level.

Potential Downsides?

The plan to reduce concession prices does have some potential downsides. Many fans are worried that the already long lines would increase in length. The Atlanta Falcons, who reduced concessions prices two years ago, mitigated this problem by setting all prices at round dollar amounts, which increases the speed of every cash transaction. The Hawks appear to be following a similar route.

The cash strategy could be taken a step further by converting every third or fourth line into a “cash-only” lane. Those lines would move very quickly and also save the club the three percent credit card transaction fee imposed on non-cash payments.

Some fans might also lament the loss of the local restaurants that you’ve integrated. But there is no reason those eateries would need to disappear. It would certainly be possible to set up “premium” concessions areas where fans can still drop $13 on a Killer Burger, or $10 on a premium beer, while also having generic items available at other windows.

Fans Are Fed Up

The bottom line is that fans are sick and tired of ridiculous price gouging for in-arena food and beverages. Every year the “family of four” reports come out and every year they get bleaker (average cost for a family of four to attend a single NBA was $300+ in 2016).

The Hawks apparently recognize that price inflation has soured attendees against their team and that the consequences of “fan friendly” pricing will hopefully give them a PR boost and a bottom line boost. The Blazers often claim to be innovators of the in-arena experience, and have won numerous awards for it — prove that you’re still on the cutting edge and chop those concession prices.


A concerned fan

Readers let us know what you think in the comments! How much do you spend on concessions at a typical Blazers game? Would you spend more or less if the team introduced a more reasonable pricing structure?