Delaware North CEO Jerry Jacobs Jr. (3rd from left) with Bob Castellini (3rd from right), owner of the Cincinnati Reds, with Delaware North colleagues Andy Worden, Jim Houser, Don Dierig and Ken Gaber.
Welcoming Fans Back to the Stands
Four ballparks where Delaware North Sportservice provides hospitality services opened to baseball fans on Major League Baseball (MLB) Opening Day last Thursday.
It was a day many baseball fans have been counting down to after the COVID-19 pandemic kept fans away from stands for most of the 2020 season.
Although weather postponed several games at MLB ballparks, all 30 teams were scheduled to play their season-opening games, with almost all teams also announcing they will commence the season with stadiums at between twenty and thirty per cent of capacity - to allow for social distancing.
Delaware North implemented its Play It Safe program at Comerica Park (home to the Detroit Tigers), American Family Field (the home of Milwaukee Brewers), Petco Park (San Diego Padres' stadium) and Great American Ball Park (the seat of the Cincinnati Reds) which keeps guests and associates safe in accordance with Federal, state and local COVID guidelines.
For associates, the program means mandatory proper personal protective equipment (PPE) use and enhanced service styles to maintain social distance and serving food safely. Limited menus have also been adopted to allow for simplified preparation and service. Guests and fans will see newly implemented cashless technology, mobile ordering and socially distanced setups at walk-up concessions.
Despite the limited crowds and safety protocols, fans are ready to take in live baseball again. According to a recent recent study by Oracle, 93 per cent of consumers have been nostalgic about stadium food, although many also want operators to rethink traditional service models to accommodate mobile ordering, in-seat delivery, cashless transactions and pre-ordering.
ing food were all cited as ideal replacements for traditional service styles — and Delaware North has adopted a mix of these at all 11 MLB ballparks where it provides hospitality services.
Joe Rembold, Delaware North's director of technical innovation was interviewed for the Oracle study, and also provided insights into the company's vision for a "360-degree" fan experience during a SportsTechie State of the Industry webinar which can be viewed here.