With Sports Back, Can Empty Stadiums Turn Into Crowded Restaurants?

This article was written by Danny Klein with FSR Magazine

Sports have returned to quiet stadiums across America. While great news for TV networks, where it leaves restaurants is a more complex debate. Does this locked-out group of fans present opportunity? Or does COVID-19 concern outweigh everything else? The answer likely lies somewhere in the blurry middle.

Buffalo Wild Wings, for one, got creative as it recreated game day inside restaurants. It launched a “season ticket package” for Cleveland Browns fans to watch games from a custom-designed “Dawg Pound” inside the sports bar. The package includes four seats and rolled to 10 Buffalo Wild Wings throughout the area. Ten packages were available for $750 via StubHub and included weekly food and drink deals, including a welcome package with branded face masks.

And for those outside Cleveland, Buffalo Wild Wings unveiled a $99 digital “Blazin’ Season Ticket” offering, redeemable for 10 boneless or traditional wings each week of the NFL season at any store. The deal could be used for dine-in, takeout, and delivery, through the brand’s website or app. It amounts to roughly 58 cents per wing.

Buffalo Wild Wings took a like-minded approach to baseball season when it brought beer vendors inside restaurants.

Buffalo Wings & Rings, an 80-unit chain with 60 or so domestic locations, isn’t quite so deliberate. CEO Nader Masadeh says the brand wants to court personal connections, sports or not. “I believe sports are not going to have a big impact on us because what I’m defining this is as is, we’re not about sports,” he says. “We’re about human connection. And humans, you probably notice in your office, not everybody wants to stay home. They just want to go out and talk to people and see people.”

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