Food is a powerful motivator.
Officials for the Indianapolis Indians, the city’s AAA minor league baseball team, have found this out in a big way.
Seven years ago, the team started offering many concession stand items for $1 during Monday games as an inducement to lure people to Victory Field on a traditionally slow night.
But before they could launch this promotion, they had to convince their food provider, Aramark, it would pay. Offering hot dogs, peanuts, cracker jacks, sodas and other items for $1 seriously cuts into the profit margin.
“What they’ve found is they more than make up for it in volume,” said Indians General Manger Cal Burleson.
While you can only get four hot dogs per concession stand visit for a buck each, there's no limit on the number of concession stand visits you can make during a game. And Burleson said people are making plenty of visits during Monday games. In fact, they're making more every year as the promotion grows in popularity.
Anyone in the sports and entertainment business knows Mondays, generally speaking, stink. It’s the hardest night to get people out of the house and to the arena, ball park or any other entertainment venue. NFL’s Monday Night Football not withstanding. That’s something of an anomaly.
It’s not just a difficult night for minor league baseball teams. It’s a universal truth among Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League franchises as well that Monday nights are a real challenge. Ditto for movie theaters and other entertainment outlets.
Burleson told me this morning (as he was detailing the team’s 2010 marketing plan) that Monday Dollar Menu Night started to really take root in 2007, and last year made Mondays the third best night, in terms of attendance, for the Indians—behind Friday night and Saturday games.
“Word of mouth on this promotion has really grown its popularity,” Burleson said.
Monday Dollar Menu Night also got a boost, Burleson said, due to the faltering economy, as more central Indiana residents looked for entertainment bargains.
The Indians have always been known as being the most economical option among Indianapolis’ professional sports franchises, Burleson noted, and Monday Dollar Menu Night has fallen right in line with that brand messaging.
The Indians are far from standing pat this year. The team is launching new specials and offering enhanced entertainment options this season. Stay tuned to this blog and future IBJ print editions for more on that.