If you’re a beer fans who also frequent sporting events, you probably already know this, but we’ll say it anyway: The beer selection at most stadiums blows. Rarely will you find anything on tap more exciting than a witbier, and no matter which boring beer you choose, you’re going to pay $14 for the privilege of sipping it out of a big plastic cup.
But things are getting better. In early August, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co. both announced plans to partner with local sports teams for in-stadium bars. As a result of a 10-year partnership deal with Sierra Nevada, the Sacramento Kings’ new Golden 1 Center (which officially opens October 4) will feature the brewery’s beers in locations throughout the arena. The contract also includes an open-air lounge called Sierra Nevada Draught House located above the entrance to the arena, where fans will be able to enjoy a range of SN brews, including a mandarin- and lemon peel-spiced blonde ale brewed exclusively for the stadium. New Belgium’s deal—the result of a $4.3 million donation to Colorado State University for the construction of a new on-campus football stadium—includes plans for the “New Belgium Porch,” a bar located behind the north end zone set to open when the stadium does, just before the 2017-2018 NCAA football season.
If you can’t wait, however, you’ll find that brewers, app developers and even stadium concession stand operators are finding new ways to improve your drinking experience. Here are just a few of them:
You read that right—kiosks and built-in stations where you can pour your own beer are popping up across NBA, MLB and NFL venues. The machines feature digital sensors that read preloaded cards and enable spectators to pay by the ounce. “The numbers will go up when you open the tap, almost like you’re at a gas pump,” says Jose Hevia, CEO/founder of Draftserv Technologies, the machines’ manufacturer. But it’s not all you- can-drink: An actual human is stationed by each kiosk for age and sobriety checks, and there are limits on how many ounces you can pour. The technology’s been used across the sporting world, including at the homes of the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Cavaliers; at events like the Kentucky Derby, MLB All Star Game and Indy 500; and at the Cleveland Indians’ Progressive Field, where fans can pour pints from a wall of a dozen or so taps dispensing hometown beers.
Waiting in line for nachos while there’s action on the field is the worst. Stadiums know this, so they’re increasingly partnering with app designers to enable you to order beer and food right from your seat. One such app, Bypass Lane, currently has partnerships with several MLB squads, including the Diamondbacks, Reds, Dodgers, Phillies and Padres as well as several other teams. Another, VenueNext, is available at the stadiums of the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings; it not only lets you order from your seat, but also has features that help you to find the bathroom with the shortest line and pick up tickets for next week’s game.
Frozen beer foam
Cold beer is nice; frozen beer’s better. Fans at LA Dodgers and Texas Rangers home games can grab pints served with slushified lager, courtesy of specially designed slushy machines by Kirin Ichiban. The frozen head atop the beer can keep it ice-cold for close to an hour.
And coming soon:
The Mercedes-Benz Stadium, future home of the Atlanta Falcons, will feature a 100-yard bar that spans the length of the entire football field. It opens in 2017.