Stadium Foods: The good, the bad and the crazy

By Andrew Kelly, Staff Writer

Enjoying good food that is bad for you is a classic part of attending a sporting event, whether it’s sugary candy at a high school football game or a massive sandwich at a MLB game. It’s also well-known that these foods will cost you a pretty penny and that the efforts of fans to sneak their own food into games tend to fail. So unless you’ve got some creative new idea for how to get that Tupperware of wings past security, here’s some stadium fare worth the fee.

The Delicious

The Buffalo Bills have some crazy food options available at New Era Field. However, none are more impressive than the fried peanut butter and jelly bites. Yes, you read that correctly. These bad boys are fried to a crisp, skewered then showered with a loving serving of powdered sugar — just to make sure that this dish is unhealthy enough.

Savory not your thing? The Detroit Lions are frying up something different at Ford Field, building dessert nachos for fans trying to relieve the stress of all of the Lions’ fourth-quarter comebacks. These chips are tossed in cinnamon sugar and then covered in nutella, cherries, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Some of the most interesting dishes can often be found at minor league baseball stadiums looking for a way to draw fans in to games that typically have very low appeal. If I lived anywhere near Sauget, Illinois — where GCS ballpark is located — the Gateway Grizzlies would be doing just that. They have constructed a dish that sounds so sweet and so delicious that I would go to a game just to try it. The Grizzlies sell a bacon cheeseburger that is fairly straightforward, except for the fact that the bun is replaced with a Krispy Kreme donut. This combination of two of the greatest foods known to mankind could not possibly go badly.

The Crazy

The Milwaukee Brewers came up just short of the World Series this season and it could have been because their players were too busy chowing down on a popular dish from Miller Park. The pulled-pork parfait takes a dish that is usually sweet and good and turns it into a dish that is reportedly savory but sounds disgusting. This parfait is made out of pulled pork, mashed potatoes, barbeque sauce and chives. Call me insane if you want, but I would not be going anywhere near this dish at Miller Park. Taking a dish that is typically sweet and turning it into a savory, meat-filled container of mashed potatoes does not sound appetizing to me at all.

The highest honors for the crazy category go to a special project that the Arizona Cardinals are producing at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The $75 “Gridiron Burger” is a force to be reckoned with, sporting a list of ingredients so long it’s amazing they were even able to fit everything — the 10-inch bun probably helps, too. With five patties, five hot dogs, five bratwursts, eight slices of bacon, eight chicken tenders, 20 slices of cheese, 12 ounces of fries and some special sauce to tie it all together, this behemoth can feed a whole section of the stadium.

Speaking of a minor league team that serves incredible food, let’s talk about the Northwest Arkansas Naturals who call Arvest Ballpark home. Yes, Northwest Arkansas actually has a minor league baseball team. The Naturals are serving a food that is anything but natural, though it is surely delicious. Heard of corn dogs? In Northwest Arkansas, they’ve taken it to a whole new level, slathering a hot dog in funnel cake batter and frying it to crispy perfection, then showering it in enough powdered sugar to give your dentist nightmares.

The Affordable

NFL stadiums may be most well known for jacking up food and beverage prices on fans. According to Statista, the average football fan is paying more than $5 for a hot dog on game day, just below that for a soda to accompany their food and more than $8 for a beer. Things get even more expensive at big games like the Super Bowl, where a hot dog can cost upwards of $8 and a soda can get above $7.

In comes Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who overhauled the way that the Falcons price their concessions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium a few years ago. Attending a Falcons game is now much more affordable, with a bottomless soft drink coming in at $2 and a hot dog just as cheap. Not only has Blank made game day much more affordable for his fans, but he has made even more money in concessions sales by doing so. Hopefully, more stadiums around the country will follow suit.

Texas Memorial Stadium at the University of Texas is one stadium already on board, dropping the prices of its concessions to make things more affordable for students and fans. It did not drop prices as drastically as the Falcons did, but it is encouraging to see some concession costs moving against the overall upward trend around the country. If Texas would look at Blank’s numbers more closely, they would likely see that they could actually make more money if they dropped their prices even further.

Without a doubt, stadiums are cooking up increasingly impressive snacks every year in an effort to drive fans into seats and get them to the concession stands when they are hungry. As prices rise, look for stadiums around the country to occasionally fight this trend. I’d suggest trying to make a large payday by capitalizing on the willingness of consumers to pay a reasonable price for food while watching their favorite teams in action.