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Three Steps to Becoming a Sports Arena Food Vendor


May 13, 2015
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What if you could catch all the sports you desired with a treasure trove of free food in tow? What if you could do this while making money? Setting up as a sports arena food vendor might sound great, but there is plenty of work to be done before you start selling hot dogs to fans.

Sports arena food vendor ownership, while profitable, can’t be undertaken without a few required steps:
  • First you will need to obtain the proper licensing.
  • Next, you will need to acquire insurance for your business.
  • Finally, you’ll need to speak with Concession Management at your chosen venue.
If you can get past these obstacles, the rewards could prove significant. Vendors at sporting events typically mark-up prices significantly, and as a result, they realize a substantial profit on the items they sell. The profit margins for drinks alone are often in excess of 90 percent, as Sports-Management-Degrees.com illustrated in an infographic. Even nachos, which are sold at the lowest profit margin, maintain an average profit margin of 47-64. Simply put, selling food and drinks at sports events is profitable. If you’d like to get your hands on the money to be made from concessions sales, speak with an attorney. But before you do that, take a look at these crucial first steps:
  1. Obtain a License

    Most, if not all arenas will not permit you to sell anything on their premises without proper licensing. State health departments often control access to licenses for food preparation and sale, and fines for failure to obtain the proper licensure can be pretty hefty. Thus, it’s essential ensure that you are allowed to sell food before you endeavor to start doing so. In New Jersey, for example, the first step is getting your general business license and DBA (doing business as), BusinessNameUSA.com noted. In addition, you will be required to obtain a seller’s permit. There’s a chance you won’t have employees, but in the event that you do, you will also need to obtain state and federal Employer Identification Numbers. Additionally, your location or cart will be required to pass a health inspection, and you might need to obtain additional licensure, such as for selling and preparing food, depending on the state in which you conduct business.
  2. Make sure You have Insurance

    You might be licensed to sell hot dogs, but you’re not ready to step into the arena just yet. Depending on which state you live in, you will also need to apply for insurance. There are a variety of options to choose from, and even if insurance isn’t a requirement in your state, it can still prove helpful. It would be useful to seek advice from an attorney on the subject. Vendor insurance can certainly help protect owners from the unexpected costs that can significantly set back a concessions vendor, Marine Agency Insurance explained. If you’re selling from a trailer, you will also need some sort of vehicle insurance. It is important to look into what types of insurance you will need, depending on where you do business. The insurance you need may depend on the venue where you plan to work. For example, Marine Agency noted that it offers group coverage for individual vendors gathered in a single location.
  3. Meet with Concessions Management

Once you have obtained your licenses and are fully insured, it’s finally time to stop by the arena. First, you will need to understand the vendor policies of your chosen arena and speak with the concessions management team there about whether you can set up, and, if so, where to do so. For example: will they want you to set up outdoors, within the hallways or set up at a permanent location? Representatives from the stadium will be able to help you determine these things. There are several steps to take and documents to complete through before you enter an arena as a vendor, but once you do you will be ready to start reaping profits. For specific licensing and insurance questions, such as “How do I obtain a business license in New Jersey” or “What type of insurance do I need to run a food cart near Madison Square Garden,” it’s best to consult with an attorney.