Penguins eye new era of arena experience with F&B upgrades

The Pittsburgh Penguins have teamed up with food and beverage partner Aramark to unveil a series of renovations that the NHL ice hockey team believes will make its PPG Paints Arena the “safest and most innovative” sports and entertainment dining experience in the US.

The investments are being made to create a safe, contactless experience at PPG Paints Arena in a post-COVID environment and are a core part of the Penguins and Aramark extending their longtime partnership, which dates back to 1991.

With the installation of new and expanded concepts and introduction of fan-friendly technology, the renovations are designed to build upon PPG Paints Arena’s concessions options and promote a safe and efficient experience for guests. PPG Paints is being used as part of the renovation process, and construction is expected to be completed by the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.

“The Penguins are very proud to partner with Aramark to make PPG Paints Arena the safest and most innovative sports and entertainment dining experience in the country,” said David Morehouse, CEO and president of the Penguins.

“Following our announcement of the Rivers Casino deck last week, we have several construction projects underway to keep our fans safe and we look forward to welcoming fans back to the arena with improved food and beverage facilities and the latest fan interactive technologies.”

The fan-friendly tech introduced will include the deployment of Mashgin artificial intelligence (AI) self-checkout scanners throughout the arena, installation of self-ordering kiosks and mobile ordering being made available through the Penguins app.

Among the new concepts are Drink MKT, an express, self-service beverage market that uses Mashgin scanners. The King Penguin will be a new destination sports bar on the main concourse, while The Market will serve as a large marketplace featuring three unique food stations and grab-and-go food and beverage.

The new Fan Favs Express will offer a variety of fan favourite items and self-checkout, while Connected Concepts offers some of the most popular menu items from around the arena available in one stand. The stand is flexible, allowing for the menu to change per event.

Mike McDonald, district manager of Aramark’s Sports & Entertainment division, said: “Now, more than ever, it’s imperative we provide a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone we serve. We have a long, proud history of serving Penguins fans and I’m confident we will continue to deliver an innovative, dynamic and engaging food and beverage experience for everyone attending events at the arena.”

With the 2019-20 NHL season only concluding on Monday due to COVID-19, a start date for the 2020-21 campaign has yet to be defined. With regards when fans may be allowed back into PPG Paints Arena, Penguins senior vice-president and senior counsel, Kevin Acklin, told local broadcaster KDKA: “No one can predict when that’ll happen. We’re hopeful sometime in January. Officially, we’re not sure.”

Acklin also maintained that the new renovations at the arena will not result in job losses. He added: “This will enhance our existing workforce here at PPG Paints Arena. We have on a typical game night over 700 people here working.”

Image: Pittsburgh Penguins