About five Saturdays each year, fans fill the usually vacant Joe Aillet stadium. The stands roar, and the ground shakes; then hungry fans wait their turn at the concession stand.
At the last home game, many of those hungry fans disappointed. The concession stands had few credit card machines available, ran out of hot chocolate and left fans standing in long lines, David Anderson, a history professor, said.
“Given how well Tech football is doing, I would hope our concession service matches up to the stellar play of our team,” Anderson said. “Our football team doesn’t use the old single wing and model-T. I would hope our concession stands are state of the art just like our team.”
Anderson’s season tickets keep him on the home side of the stadium. Jacob Tilley, a freshman business management major, said the problems are not as bad on the opposite side.
“The lines weren’t that long,” Tilley said. “I paid with Tech Express, and I just wanted a drink.”
The concession stands are run by Aramark, Tech’s dining service. Robert Lubbert, district manager of Aramark, said he recognizes the downfalls.
“They asked if we wanted to advertise on the Jumbotron,” he said. “No. It would kill us. We can’t serve that many people.”
Lubbert said credit card machines cost $10,000 and spending such a great amount for five days a year simply is not worth it. Aramark does bring machines from main campus to the games, and the stands do accept Tech Express.
“It’s a tricky operation,” he said. “Currently, it’s not equipped to satisfy the volume.”
Game day is a long process for Aramark, Lubbert said. They typically cater a reception at the president’s home, maintain the cafeteria and provide for the stands all in one main-campus kitchen.
“In an ideal world everything would be prepared on premise, but right now, only popcorn is,” he said.
Aramark vans bring food from the Student Center to the stadium. The delay from traffic and parking can compromise the food, Lubbert said.
Anderson suggested three main areas the concession stands could improve.
“I’d like to see convenience in pay,” Anderson said. “They need more modern food display and food choice. I’d like to see the souvenir cups back.”
Lubbert said Aramark plans to fix all these areas. They have opened up additional check-out lines and allowed third-party vendors to supplement their food. Pizza, funnel cakes, hot chocolate and sno-balls are just some of the additions these businesses provide.
“If they want to have other vendors, that’s fine,” Anderson said. “I think the food choices should be more inventive and help them make more money.”
The souvenir cups will be addressed hopefully by the next home game, Lubbert said. A collection featuring former football players is on its way.
Aramark’s best chance of improving the concession stands, he said, is in the blueprints.
The new facility planned for the south end zone and funded by the self-assessed fee passed by students last year will have athletic offices, a banquet room and, hopefully, a kitchen.
“For the puzzle to come together, it has to have a kitchen in the new center to be able to provide food for that facility,” Lubbert said. “It will add to the quality and help us produce food for the concession stand on premise.”
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