2016 Blue Jays ticket sales have been a resounding success. While the season will not end for another seven weeks, the Blue Jays are fourth in attendance, having averaged over 40,000 fans per game. With the success of the team and the growth of the fan base, the ballpark experience will become more and more important as additional fans make their way through the turnstiles.
One element of any great ballpark experience are the food and drinks available inside the stadium. While Mark Shapiro is often lauded for the fan experience improvements he made in Cleveland, there appears to be mounting evidence that Blue Jays’ fans would rather bring their own food than eat what’s available inside the stadium. Fans just aren’t satisfied with the ballpark staples or the prices they must pay to enjoy them.
The Blue Jays need to rethink the food options currently available at the Rogers Centre. All of the finest restaurants in the world have their menu items named after people and the Blue Jays will lose out on a valuable marketing opportunity if they don’t do the same. Here are some delicious and alluring alternative menu items that will have more fans reaching for their wallets instead of inside their backpack when eating at the ballpark.
Marcus Stroman’s Height Doesn’t Measure Taste 8” Hot Dog
While the undersized ballpark frankfurter may not be as big as other team’s 10 and 12-inch offerings, the Stroman HDMT gourmet hot dog proves there’s more to the stadium hot dog game than size alone. The menu item offers Stroman’s already trademarked company a strong co-branding opportunity and the business savvy hurler a foot in the door into the lucrative pork production industry.
Kevin Pillar’s “Matzo Ball Four Soup”
The Blue Jays have long since abandoned the strikeouts for pizza promotion that was part of the Rogers Centre in-game experience for years. If they are looking to bring back the goodwill and excitement that came with the possibility of free food, they can reinvent the promotion around a matzo ball soup. The delicatessen favorite will be given away on nights when the team’s Jewish centre fielder takes a walk. Pillar’s propensity to swing away should ensure that the team won’t be losing money hand-over-fist while providing yet another unique stadium offering for fans to sample.
The Justin Smoak Burger
The Justin Smoak burger offers fans a traditional fast food option while dining at the stadium. Much like Smoak himself, the food isn’t the best, but it is filling, inexpensive, and doesn’t preclude you from getting another high-priced snack like ice cream (or Edwin Encarnacion) later on in the game. Mayonnaise comes standard.
Troy Tulowitzki Superfood Salad
Troy Tulowitzki is known to be an intensely dedicated athlete that will leave no stone unturned in his quest to be the best player he can be. This means a strict diet that is constantly adapting to new research and breakthroughs in nutrition science. The Troy Tulowitzki Superfood Salad embodies this spirit, and incorporates all the most popular health foods of today: kale, chia seeds, gogi berries and maca powder. The salad offers health-conscious fans a nutritional option to pair with the four or five beers they will drink at the park.
Russell Martin Escargot
This fine dining staple honors both Martin’s French Canadian heritage and his inability to run the bases with any speed due to the toll years of catching have taken on his legs. The snails will offer a touch of sophistication to a menu that leans heavily on more common fare.
Aaron Loup’s Homestyle Gumbo
Loup’s namesake dish acts as an analogy for what it’s like to build a bullpen. When you make a traditional creole gumbo, you use all of your leftover ingredients. This is why some of the ingredients can change from day to day; depending on what the cook has left at their disposal. The same is true for the final spots in a bullpen – where the pitchers occupying these spots can change regularly depending on who is hot, who is injured and whom the team may be playing at any given time. Loup, a Louisiana native himself, knows this all to well.
Jose Bautista Premium Tequila
The Rogers Centre is currently lacking top shelf booze options for spirits drinkers. A high-end, premium tequila inspired by Jose Bautista would be a welcome addition to the stadium bar menu. Bautista’s fiery and sometimes hot-headed play on the field makes him the perfect ambassador for a beverage that often makes its drinkers fiery and hot-headed themselves. Signature cocktails can be named after all of Bautista’s detractors throughout the league. Limit two per game.
Edwin Encarnacion’s Pulled Pork Sandwich
A must-have ballpark staple named after the Blue Jay slugger’s batted ball profile.
Josh Donaldson’s Fried Gator Bites
Artery-clogging, diabetes-inducing foods are always a favorite at the ballpark. These items get all the media coverage too – no one is spilling any ink when a team unveils a new veggie stir-fry. The Blue Jays can offer a Man verses Food-sized portion of fried alligator named after their All-Star third baseman. Not only will the fried alligator pay homage to both Donaldson’s ferociousness as a competitor and his Floridian roots, it will offer the often-overlooked pescatarian fans a menu option at the ballpark.
The R.A. Dickey Chef’s Special
During his time with the Blue Jays, R.A. Dickey has sometimes frustrated fans with his inconsistent performances on the mound. While he may throw eight innings of shutout ball one day, the often-capricious nature of the knuckleball means he is susceptible to struggling the next. This type of variance in the kitchen is not met with the same ire. A rotating menu item ensures that even season ticket holders will have new dishes to look forward to at the game and provides a positive association between the ever changing menu items and the team’s veteran knuckleballer. The R.A. Dickey Chef’s Special reminds fans that variance is not always a bad thing
Now that the Blue Jays are drawing big numbers at the turnstiles, the team can’t afford to rest on its laurels when it comes to ballpark refreshments. The options above represent some new and interesting directions to take the Rogers Centre ballpark fare. While I don’t know exactly how the Blue Jays will improve their stadium food and drink offerings, I can unfortunately promise that any fresh options will be just as overpriced as the plain and boring options the team currently has.