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.
Concession Economics at the Metrodome
(2005, all events/sports, in millions)
Paid to teams/tenants: $6.6
Paid to Centerplate: $1.1
Profit to MSFC: $2.2M
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.
"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."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3037 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
"I've never seen them do that before," said a Metropolitan Club waiter as I snapped this picture.
These openings will facilitate access to the catwalks which run throughout the canopy.
Catwalks provide access to the View Level seats (from the Ballpark Authority July update)
Work beneath the scoreboard
Packed SRO beneath the notch.
The sculpture on which millions of kids will one day pose.
The rough outlines of our urban trench. (North is up.)
Showing more of the context for the louvers.
Earl Santee, principle architect for HOK Sport, presents some concepts while Mike Opat listens
I love these upper neighborhoods.
This concourse, the uppermost, was built on top of the now-hidden old concourse during the 70s renovation.
The pink thing is a mascot. (Actually, with a damn fine mascot actor underneath.)
Signage for the concession stand which is available from the plaza (plaques are up on the fencing)
Indications that club seating (the wider spaced areas above each dugout) will be a major presence in the lower deck
The entry from the platform to the ballpark.
A closer look at the grid on the Pro Shop.
Thome steps in.
A view straight on of the Pro Shop area and ticket windows (just barely visible). The piers you see beneath the plaza are already almost completed (see final photo).
This guy at the Puckett atrium chef stand caught me taking the picture and said I should stop back later because he was "just getting started." I still don't know what he meant.
Bronze glove delivered (awaiting installation) with Met flag pole horizontal behind the gate
4th inning in the nearly deserted Home Run Porch View Level in left.
Sunday afternoon, WFTC-HD 720P
Love the lighted, translucent panel
On this day, George was handling fruits and veggies right inside gate 34.
This view looks through the opening in the fence where the crosswalk will be.
The lot within the lot.
Note the gigantic -- and very permanent -- M's on the gates at the base of these stairs.
5:45 PM, section 327, row 9, standing: sunshine.
Note reflected sunset (7:30 PM). Could be a worry...
Looking back toward the park from just beyond the north end of the Northstar platform.
This may look like just some guy (perhaps a spy) headed for the train. But it's actually the Northstar engineer!
I know you've seen this, but I can't get enough of it.
Brick work just inside the opening matches the color of the limestone - per Jerry Bell's requirements.