Opening Day for Delaware North Companies Sportservice
My assignment at Camden Yards yesterday was to get reactions to the food from real fans and shoot pictures of them eating the new food. They gave me a point-and-shoot camera.
Now I know why photographers wear those vests with all of those pockets.
Pen, phone, camera, reporter's notebook. That's too many objects for me. You know what I HATE about modern electronics: is this thing ON or is it OFF??
One of the photos I managed to take was of Amanda and Justin Knight. Amanda is on the left.
I got there at Noon. I Tweeted a bit. I I realized pretty quickly that the typical fan buys food at a concession and takes it away.That made it hard, or at least weird, for me to get photos and reactions.
I ate a Natty Boh Brat. I walked the lower concourse back and forth. I didn't go to the upper concourse.
By the time I left, the lines had gotten very, very long. I made a glancing reference in this story to the sluggish lines I saw. But, I've heard since that sluggish is a major understatement. I received an email this morning describing a two-inning wait for a diet soda and a scarcity of vendors in the stands.
A representative from Delaware North Companies Sportservice admitted that the day was beset by problems with the point-of-sale systems.
Other observations and comments:
Kosher - The Inglewood, N.J.-based Kosher Sports, an Oriole Park vendor since 2005, has returned but in a new location. Kosher dogs are now sold across from the entrance ramp to Section 46-52 on the Lower Concourse.
Attman's - Not back. This was Attman's choice, I was told.
Signage - The major signage is attractive and fresh. It looks like a corporation has managed it. There were problems, though, with ancillary signage, leaving fans confused about products (what exactly was a "Big Boog"), prices, and policies (only two beers for customers at the taverns).
Prices - Well. $7.50 is obviously a steep price for a 20-ounce Natty Boh. $14 is steep for a crab cake that I think is delicious but that looks small. (I'll find out the exact ounce-age for you.). But compared to what? Should the prices be compared to the corner pub, or to the fare at other sports venues in comparable markets? Natty Boh was a big hit yesterday. People were very happy to have a local beer to drink. And before someone writes in to tell me that Natty Boh is not a local beer - Natty Boh is a local beer because we say it's a local beer. You can still bring your own food into the stadium.
Biggest disappointment - Local and micro-brews. On the third base side of the lower concourse, the new Diamond State Tavern has a sad airport-lounge look. The tavern opened with two beers on tap (Blue Moon and Flying Dog Pale Ale) and another three brews in bottles (Magic Hat #9, Heavy Seas Golden Ale and Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.
At one point, I called back into the office and said, "you know, I really should be doing this story at the second home game." Fans have every right to judge Delaware North based on its performance yesterday -- everyone was paying full price.
Sportservice will be making changes and implementing new features over the next several months. Tweaks will be made, and more changes are coming, including a Food Network Cafe in the warehouse and natural and organic options. I'll be watching, I'm sure you will be, too.
What was Opening Day like for you?