A Hot Dog...Please?
July 28, 2006 10:00 PM
The Metrodome hot dog vendor. (Source: RP)
There is a hot dog vendor at the Metrodome.
I know because I saw him. He was three sections to my left in the 4th inning, and two sections to my right in the 6th.
I watched him like a hawk between pitches, and saw him finish with his row, exit to the concourse, and then disappear completely on both occasions. Meanwhile, the cotton candy guy went up and down our aisle more or less constantly for 7 innings.
We were sitting in the 19th row of the upper deck, the park was completely full, and a hot dog just seemed like the right thing to have (call me crazy). But I knew it would take some time to climb down, that the line at the concession stand would be long, that the help would be essentially untrained, and that I'd probably have to miss an entire inning or more in order to indulge my appetite.
What's more, the hot dog would come out of a drawer -- not off a grill or even out of hot water. No part of this process interested me, so I simply went without.
For me, it meant that I remained unsatisfied, and began to fume somewhat. For the concession company it meant that I went home with $10 in my pocket that they could have gotten if only there were a second hot dog vendor roaming the upper deck.
Mind you, this isn't the Twins' fault. They do not control the concessions at the Metrodome. Concessions are controlled by the Metropolitan Sports Facilites Commission -- the body which owns the Dome and was snubbed by the legislature in the creation of the new Ballpark Authority. Perhaps this snub was deserved.
In fact, concession control is one of the major upgrades the Twins are looking forward to in the new park. There they will have complete control over all aspects, including menu, pricing, signage and design, even how many people are out in the stands selling hot dogs. I have no doubt that they will do a better job than the company which does it now (Centerplate).
The numbers in the sidebar show just how little the Twins make on concessions. The $6.6 million paid to tenants is for all teams/tenants combined (Twins, Vikings, monster truck rallies, etc.). Even assuming that 3/4 of that goes to the Twins, that would come out to just $3.53 per fan at any given game (1.4 million fans in 2005).
That's insanely low -- especially given the outrageous prices. One suspects that the MSFC, Hormel and Centerplate are the ones making the real money in this arrangement. The new park will be a major improvement for the Twins.
But setting aside my hunger pangs, the dynamic of roaming vendors (also known as "in-seat vendors") is pretty important to determining everything from how many fixed concession stands you need to how many seats are appropriate for each row, and how many rows can fit between horizontal cirulation aisles. The fewer roaming vendors, the more space you need to allow for fixed stands, their long lines, and fans moving to and from their seats to spend money.
And the money part is the real issue, of course. The easier it is to spend money at the game, the more people will spend. It's that simple.
It's more fuel for those, like me, who vehemently dislike the Metrodome. There are 31 rows in the upper deck, with no horzontal aisles of any sort. Each row has from about 20 to 35 seats, with only skinny aisles at each end. (I'm choosing not to mention how cramped the leg room is, but this could be a subject for another entry.)
It would seem that economics alone would suggest that investment in roaming vendors would pay off very well. Since we have to live with the Dome for 3 more seasons, it would be great if someone at the MSFC would get on Centerplate, or just fire them and find somebody else.
Concessions at the Dome have been a problem since day one. No wonder the Twins were so adamant that they regain control in their new home. Whether it's hot dogs or walleye-on-a-stick, I'm looking forward to buying it right from my seat on a regular basis.
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This page was last modified on January 21, 2010.
"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
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Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
The Ballpark Wall! (really stunning)
Flagpole historian Ben McEvers at far right (click for the full photo set, graciously loaned to this site by Pat Backen)
Oh no! Beach ball! But click to enlarge so you can see the wide range of expressions on people's faces. (Photo by Jared Wieseler)
Look closely at the overhang. You'll see the on the right it is flush with the fence, and then it sticks out farther and farther as you move toward center. More fun for Michael Cuddyer.
Limestone still dominates the Seventh Street walkway from a pedestrian point of view. But brick take over as you move upward -- a concession to cost, no doubt.
Discovered on the upper concourse!
Uh oh. Schizophrenia.
The blue line now indicates where the back of the accessible seating ends and standing room begins.
Signage for the concession stand which is available from the plaza (plaques are up on the fencing)
I saw it at another park...
Here is a close-up of those funny little islands of seats (HRP View).
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Open concourses do mean that you can glimpse the field no matter where you are, but not really the game.
This is the revised version of the center field pavilion (without the restaurant). It looks like there are no seats, just some ledges for people to sit on. It reminds me of the seating on the "bridge" which sticks out of the new Guthrie Theater. Anything which lands in the trees will presumably be a home run, so the "411" sign is apparently just for fun.
This looks from the base of the stairs, behind the big pillars, toward the street.
Those two empty seats in the front row are where we started the game.
Giant screened images! (573 Club, my back to Seventh Ave windows)
From the ground beneath the troubled skyway.
Glare from the IDS never looked this sweet. (Photo by Jared Wieseler)
Knothole non-view #2
Just one lane of traffic and a couple of feet between the fence in right-center and the wall of the parking ramp!
The first passengers are about to arrive, but the switch is set for the wrong track (those guys walked all the way out to correct it)
Work beneath the scoreboard
Target Plaza looking toward the grandstand
BPM - Ballpark Magic
BRT - Bus Rapid Transit
DSP - Dave St. Peter
FSE - Full Season Equivalent
FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)
HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)
HPB - Home Plate Box
HRP - Home Run Porch
LC - Legends Club
LRT - Light Rail Transit
MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)
MOA - Mall of America
MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)
NYS - New Yankee Stadium
SRO - Standing Room Only
STH - Season Ticket Holder
TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium
TF - Target Field
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