Tour de Food
A fan’s review of the new food concessions and other amenities at the upgraded M&T Bank
I paid my first visit to the newly renovated M&T Bank Stadium Thursday night for the Carolina Panthers game. I was intrigued by news from the media and the Ravens web site that highlighted the stadium makeover and new food venues. Another attractor was Tony Lombardi’s informative stadium critique published on this site earlier this month.
I decided to forego my normal tailgating routine, get to the stadium early and hungry, and check things out for myself. I purposely tried items that I never had before. So I entered the stadium at the closest Light Rail entrance, headed right, and began my M&T Bank Food and Drink Odyssey.
Section 111 Chesapeake Market
Right from the Light Rail I purchased a Crab Cake and a Diet Snapple. The cake was an undersized ball of crab on an oversized bun. But it was pretty much all crab with little filler and seasoned surprisingly well. But it was small and, at $11, was the most expensive item I bought all evening. Cost: $15.75
Section 106 Verizon Cell Phone Charging Station:
A very cool idea for those of us who run our cell phone batteries down in the most inopportune places. Users can leave their phone charging in a locked box manned by a Verizon employee. You get a wrist band reminder to pick up their phone. You have to supply an alternate phone number at which you can be contacted, just in case you get completely toasted and leave the stadium without your phone. I was told they can charge any phone from any provider. Cost: Free, gratis.
Next to the programs and the restrooms, it’s the only thing you’ll get for free once you enter the Purple Vault.
Section 103 Kickoff Classics
I purchased a Junk Yard Dog, a hot dog on a bun covered with buffalo sauce, bleu cheese, and celery relish. It was the surprise of the night for me – delicious and spicy. If you like a dog that bites, this is it. Cost: $6.25
Section 150 Subway
I didn’t eat here, but I did notice that all sandwich items were priced at least $3 above what they charge in their regular stores. Just sayin’.
Section 148 The Talon Pub
The Diet Snapple is a fading memory, and I needed to wash down the food. This completely remodeled pub, is a full service bar with six (6) bartenders with plenty of seating to the side. Very nice and a great upgrade. My choice here was a Captain Morgan and Diet Coke with a lime twist. Cost: $9.50.
Section 115 Miller Lite Tavern
A canvas covered drinking area that is cleverly situated outside the gates but accessible only from the inside. Plenty of seating with TVs. Didn’t order anything because I was still working on the Captain.
Section 109 Gino’s “You want fries with that?”
A blast from my past – A Gino Giant. I think the jingle from the 60’s went: “Two all-beef paddies, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, on a sesame seed bun.” Or that may have been Ameche’s. Can’t remember. It was palatable, but a faint echo of what it used to be when it cost 99 cents. OK, I’m old. Cost: $8.50
Section 136 The Bud Lite Beer Garden
Another significant upgrade from last year’s version, close to my section, with plenty of seating on the side. Too bad I don’t like Bud. Besides, its game time and I’m pulling on a $4.50 bottle of water to wash everything down.
Section 129: The Flying Dog Brewery
Now we’re talking! It’s almost half time and my first selection was their IPA draft, ice cold, amber-colored, hoppy, with caramel notes. Next was their Atlantic Lager, a crisp Pilsner. This may be a regular pit stop for me starting in September. Cost: $9.00 each.
Section 128 The Bacardi Zone
The zone is finally open to the concourse instead of a cramped room.
Section 119 Attman’s Deli
It’s the 3rd quarter and I complete my food journey with a Pastrami sandwich with pickle and cold slaw. This also finished me off stomach-wise for the evening and sent me for the Pepto. A gargantuan sandwich. So’s the price. Cost: $10.50.
The lower concourse received a significant redesign with the support columns decked in brick to match the exterior of M&T Bank as well as OPACY. The purple accent lighting is pretty cool, especially at night. The exterior of all the food vendors was redesigned, too. Posters and signs with Ravens players now deck the concourse. Basically, if you previously didn’t know you were in the Ravens home stadium, you do now.
I have to agree with Tony and other critics on the placement of the video boards. Without rehashing his argument, the best place to view them is outside the stadium! What?
Inside, if you’re familiar with European Soccer on cable, the digital, interactive advertising boards just below the club deck will seem very familiar. They are amped up from last year, but after a while the constant blinking and changing of colors gets tiresome. It would be nice if they would be posting scores there from others games, but I guess I’m wishing for too much. Maybe Thursday night was just too small a sample size since only one other game was going on at the same time. The home opener on Sunday September 15 will tell the out-of-town scoreboard tale.
All in all, it was an informative evening food and drink-wise, and the stadium looks great! But it was very expensive, even though I admit that I consumed more than usual because I wanted to try some new things. And there may be other values in the stadium that I didn’t try. My tab for food and drink, including two bottles of water, was $77.50.