Wacky Baseball Foods a Grand Slam for Fans and Teams

Teams are competing to bring in fans with wackier and wackier food items.

— -- This past Tuesday brought what has lately become an increasingly common announcement: another over-the-top food item debuting at another major league ballpark.

"Food has turned into protection for sports teams,” ESPN sports business reporter and ABC News business correspondent Darren Rovell told ABC News. “Just in case you don’t win, food is a way to get the fan to the ballpark or the stadium even if the team is not doing well, if you have a novelty."

Novelty like the boomstick, a two-foot-long hot dog served at the Texas Rangers stadium. A drastic departure from your plain old peanuts or popcorn, the hot dog and bun are custom-made for the stadium and can be topped with a variety of ingredients from chili to jalapenos.

“We actually had to break a price barrier. We had to charge $26 to make that happen, and everyone thought we were crazy thinking nobody would pay that,” Delaware North operations manager Casey Rapp told ABC News. “All of a sudden they were flying off the shelf, so other folks started picking up on that.”

Delaware North, the concession company who contracts with the Rangers and other teams, sold nearly 20,000 of the boomsticks last season, proving people are certainly willing to pay for something new.

“I think for a long time sports teams have been cheap because they’ve always thought of the margins they could make on the normal hot dog. I don’t think they realized that if they had a truly unique item, that they could charge outrageous prices and still make the same margin or better,” Rovell explained. “That’s what they’re finding, that if they give the fan an experience in an item, they’ll be willing to pay for it.”

The Arizona Diamondbacks sold 9,517 of their brand-new “D-bat Dogs” last year, an 18-inch corn dog stuffed with cheddar cheese, jalapeno and bacon and served with chipotle ketchup, spicy mustard and fries – for $25. While that may not come even close to the number of standard hot dogs they sold – 112,000 – the notoriety alone was worth it.

“It’s not so much about the revenue; the standard ballpark fare is going to always be the driver,” Arizona Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall told ABC News. “But this is, ‘I gotta try it.’ A way to get people to the ballpark and talking about the ballpark, and it is a press generator. It has so much PR leg that has taken off on its own.”

At the end of the day, though, it is still about the profit, said Rovell.

“While it’s not direct, I think indirectly there is money made off this,” he said. “How much can you credit people going to the game when your team is bad to them wanting to try that?”

For example, the Diamondbacks finished in last place year, but Hall said people are excited for this season to try the stadium’s new churro dog, a warm cinnamon churro served on a donut bun topped with frozen yogurt, caramel and chocolate sauces.

“You think of us coming off a last place finish, but they’re excited to get to the ballpark for a churro. For us it’s really trying to be identified as the one destination that has the most creative line of food and they can’t wait for the next one,” Hall said. “I don’t think in the past we ever thought food could lure people to the ballpark, whereas now it does. We’re adding all these local restaurants inside and we’re having a food truck alley. The more we can do with food to get people to come to us on a regular basis, that’s powerful now. It’s something that has never happened in the past."