The sports industry has seen many changes over the past few years, in particular in the type of spectator that attends games at stadiums. Today, sports attract the interest of all kinds of people — in particular more women, families and higher-income earners. In the United States, stadium operators recognize that the new breed of spectator also has a different taste in food, and subsequently provide a much wider range of food and serve them more efficiently.

According to the Cyber-Journal of Sport Marketing, more and more money is being spent in the United States on stadiums and arenas to improve facilities in order to meet the changing needs of spectators. One particular area that has seen a dramatic change over the past few of years has been foodservice. Traditionally, foodservice at typical sporting events offered only a few products such as hot dogs and soda — an offering that spectators now consider to be passé. Today, fans have the option to purchase items such as chicken fajitas, meat pies, beefsteak and Italian sausage, to name only a few.

Regarding meat concessions, the choices are endless.

Spectators are no longer restricted to limited options, especially in the meat sector. When a regular fan goes to a stadium for a game today, that fan can choose gourmet items, including freshly cooked pasta, carved meats, tacos, pan pizzas, teriyaki kebabs and calzones.

Stadiums in the United States now have many features in order to serve spectators more efficiently in regards to foodservice, the Cyber-Journal continues. To begin with, operating a larger number of points of sale not only gives the opportunity to provide more kinds of food but also means less waiting in line, which is very important to fans who want to miss as little of the game as possible. Children also are being served better. For example, many stadiums now have kid-sized counters, where they can buy food such as chicken nuggets and hamburgers to order.

Providing a wider variety of food options at stadiums not only more accurately meets the needs of spectators, but also provides a way for stadium operators, caterers, and meat and poultry processors to increase revenue.

Who's in the game

Milwaukee-based Klement Sausage Co. Inc. has become synonymous with many sports venues and sponsorships, including sponsorships of the Milwaukee Bucks, (Bradley Center), Milwaukee Brewers (Miller Park) and Minnesota Twins. Klement’s also proudly recognizes the visibility brought about by its infamous Klement’s Racing Sausages, a game-day event featured at Miller Park during Brewers home games. These product mascots are used for marketing and promotional purposes, and work they do.

“We supply various sporting venues throughout the United States including small and large college athletics, major- and minor-league baseball, football and basketball,” says Steve Feye, vice president of foodservice sales. “As far as supplying each venue, we evaluate the previous year’s usage, compare it with the team’s home schedule, and make just enough product to cover any emergency, last-minute orders.”

The company manufactures a vast variety of raw, cooked, and smoked ethnic sausages, including bratwurst, beer bratwurst, Italian sausage, Polish sausage, chorizo, andouille (Cajun Sausage), linguica (Portuguese Sausage), Knackwurst, beef Chicago-style wieners, and pork and beef wieners. Klement’s also supplies a full line of snack sticks and jerky.

“Sports marketing is a great avenue to showcase all of our great-tasting sausage products,” says Feye.

Another company that has become synonymous with famous sports teams is Los Angeles-based Farmer John. For more than 40 years, the company has been a proud sponsor of the Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball team. Farmer John’s famous Dodger Dogs® are enjoyed by avid Dodger fans at all home games. Additionally, the company is a proud sponsor of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals team.

Meat pie versus hot dog

It is a well-known fact that there is not a town in Australia where you cannot not buy a hot pie, either pre-packaged or freshlybaked. Hot pies remain the biggest-selling favorite at sporting events and throughout Australia. In 2007, two of the biggest pie companies in Australia — Melbourne-based Four N’ Twenty, and Adelaide-based Vili’s — expanded into the U.S. market. To the tune of billions of export dollars and with a deal with a distribution giant, Vili’s placed this humble, far-from-nutritious, Aussie comfort food in their own carts on the street corners of New York City, in restaurants, pubs, clubs and sporting venues. Vili’s also teamed up with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck to bring Vili’s pies to the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

At the rate at which the meat pie is catching on, it could soon give the traditional hot dog a run for its money.