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Inflation: What to expect at NFL games this year

Inflation has reached all areas of the U.S. in 2022, including professional sports.

For the NFL, that means rising prices for cost of entry, gameday travel, and even concession stands.

“You'll see it in the hot dogs and the hamburgers,” Steve Pangburn, Sodexo Live! North America (SDXAY) CEO, told Yahoo Finance. “There will be inflation. But you'll be seeing less inflation in our venues, I believe, than what you see in grocery stores.”

The consumer price index (CPI) currently sits at 8.5%, while producer prices are up 9.8% year over year.

Fortunately, football fans have shown resilience to high ticket prices so far. Average NFL tickets are still up nearly 30% from 2019, according to data from SeatGeek provided to Yahoo Finance, while the average sale price of a ticket to the Sunday Night Football opener in Dallas is at $411 on Vividseats (SEAT).

Still, some of the pricing increases will likely be inevitable. Los Angeles Rams COO Kevin Demoff told Yahoo Finance in May that fans “already pay enough” and that the team would try to bear the burden of higher production prices as much as possible.

Sodexo Live, which operates concessions at some of the nation’s largest stadiums including the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, will lean on the diversity of its global supply chain to offset rising costs this year, according to Pangburn.

Popular concession food items are costing more, with beef prices up nearly 10% year-over-year as of July while buns and rolls have risen 13.9%, according to the most recent CPI print. Alcohol won’t be an inflation fighter, either. Beer prices "away from home" have risen 6.6% year over year, while beer prices "at home" have risen 4.6%.

“It’s going to cost more,” Pangburn said of beer in stadiums. “But it shouldn't be something that's ridiculous. And again, we work with our venue partners so that isn't ridiculous. Nobody wants to pay for a $20 beer."

A Bud Light beer mascot mingles with Seahawks fans during an NFL game between the Rams and the  Seahawks at Century Link Field in Seattle. (Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
A Bud Light beer mascot mingles with Seahawks fans during an NFL game between the Rams and the Seahawks at Century Link Field in Seattle. (Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Executives from popular stadium beer brands like Anheuser Busch InBev (BUD) and Molson Coors Beverage Company (TAP) addressed inflationary concerns extensively during their company’s most recent earnings calls over the past month and painted a warning sign that rising beer costs may not subside during the second half of the year.

Molson Coors CFO Tracey Jourbert reported a 10.2% increase in cost of goods sold in the Americas “due to inflation.” The rising costs were seen in materials at the brewery, during packaging, and freight.

“We expect margins to continue to be impacted by inflationary pressures in areas including input materials and transportation costs in the second half of the year,” Joubert said on the company’s investor call.

Anheuser Busch CEO Michel Doukeris said size and scale can help the company offset beer inflation, which he noted is currently lagging headline inflation by 4%.

Josh is a reporter and producer for Yahoo Finance.

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