Uber Eats wants to deliver straight to your seat in Aussie sports stadiums

uber eats at venues

Image: Tegan Jones

“Jersey for Tegan,” a booming American voice calls out over the bleachers. I wave and he hands me a size small with the name and number of the darling of the New York Yankees — Aaron Judge — stitched onto the back. It wasn’t anything unique. There was a sea of them amongst the crowd of fans. What was weird is that I’d ordered it on Uber Eats just minutes earlier.

Yankee Stadium can house over 46,500 people. On the warm Sunday I was visiting — Yankees vs Rays — it was packed; the food and merch stands were overflowing. It wasn’t particularly surprising as someone from Australia who is used to long lines for overpriced beer and pies at cricket or footy.

The only difference here is that I didn’t have to do it this time. I was there to test an attempted solution — Uber Eats at Venues. Rolled out in March this year, it lets you use the regular Uber Eats app to have food delivered to your seat in the stadium. Or in my case, also merch.

There are a couple of ways you can do this — by either scanning a QR code at your seat or manually going through the app. In the latter case, the location tracking knew I was at Yankee Stadium and brought up the option to use it right away.

From there I could select my row at seat number and the in-stadium food stall I wanted to order from. After placing the order, I could track it like with regular Uber Eats orders at home.

uber eats venues

According to Uber, the idea behind this is to transform sports stadiums and live music venues into “tech-forward organisations” that will drive higher volume and profits.

And this makes sense. I’ve left many a food line due to the wait being too long. The ability to order to your chair certainly guarantees more transactions.

If it works well.

We tried out the feature a few times during the three-hour game — merch, food, drinks, beer. Each and every time the orders arrived within about five minutes.

And because I’m a big nerd, we even did a timed comparison at one point — ordering via the app vs going up to the concession stand. Delivery took 5:07 minutes and going in person took 23:09 minutes.

I’m a relatively cynical person but I had to admit that I was impressed. It was a dramatic game with some cracking home run hits that I would have been annoyed to have missed if I’d been standing in line for a hotdog.

But it did make me wonder about pricing. In Australia we’ve become accustomed to takeaway costing more via delivery apps such as Uber. After all, the platform takes a cut and not raising the price would eat into the restaurant’s net revenue.

This could become a problem at a sports match or concert where customers are already paying a premium. But according to Uber, it’s not charging more for Uber Eats at Venues.

“As always pricing is at the discretion of the merchant and clearly displayed ahead of checkout,” Molly Spychalski, head of partnership marketing at Uber Eats, said to SmartCompany.

Uber Eats has an Australian rollout in its sights

uber eats at venues yankee stadium

Sometimes a girl needs a foot-long hotdog and some kind of undisclosed blue drink served with a plastic baseball cap. Image: Tegan Jones

As far as solutions go, it’s a pretty good one that I’d be keen to see in Australia. And according to Uber, it’s coming.

The business confirmed with SmartCompany that it’s in “advanced discussions” with multiple partners to bring Uber Eats at Venues to Australian stadiums.

“We know Australians adore their sport and would see the benefit of in-seat ordering as a way to make sure they never missed a moment of the action. We’d be proud to bring the convenience of ordering ahead to Australian fans.” Spychalski said.

As for which ones will get it first, we just don’t know yet.

“We identified Melbourne as a potential frontrunner, but given the high calibre and frequency of sporting matches in Sydney, the harbour city would also be a logical launch market.”

The company also said that there are some impressive new stadiums, such as Perth, that are investing heavily in the customer experience.

“The sweet spot is where stadium operators are innovating in the game day experience and where there is strong enough demand.”

According to Uber, the idea has gotten feedback in Australia so far, but it would perhaps do a softer launch first.

“As we continue to expand this technology into other markets in the United States we will have proof points to show potential operators. It is fair to say we would look to launch pre-order — the click and collect option — ahead of in-seat ordering in new markets,” Spychalski said.

uber eats at venues

Showing off my seat-delivered Yankees merch. Image: Tegan Jones

The click and collect option is one that is already available both at Yankee Stadium, as well as regular restaurants in the US and Australia. This allows users to order, or pre-order food and then skip the line.

A similar service called ‘Just Walk Out’ was announced for Marvel Stadium in Melbourne at the beginning of April. Operated by Amazon, it works in the same way as its employee-free ‘Amazon Go’ grocery stores.

Customers can enter a store at Marvel Stadium and scan their digital wallet or credit card, choose their food items, and then leave. The store will then charge them upon exit. This technology was rolled out at the beginning of the AFL season.

But for now, the seat delivery element of Uber Eats at Venue is only live at Yankee Stadium. And it’s worth remembering this is a world-class venue for a hugely popular baseball team. It has the employees and resources to execute speedy deliveries.

It made me wonder whether it would work in Australia with its smaller population. That being said, both the Sydney Cricket Ground and Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium have larger seating capacities than the Yankee stadium.

And we do love our sport and beer.

The author travelled to New York as a guest of Uber.


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