NCAA Final 4 tournament-goers who are craft beer lovers will be happy to know that Mike Gomes is a craft beer lover, too.
Gomes is the senior vice president of fan experience at AMB Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Falcons and United. And he’ll have a big hand in what beers you’ll find at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Since moving to Atlanta, after more than 20 years with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Gomes has been eagerly exploring the area’s growing number of big and small breweries — including the likes of Creature Comforts, Jekyll, Monday Night, SweetWater and Terrapin, which you’ll find at the stadium.
“I will talk beer with anyone,” Gomes said during a recent chat about the beer program at Mercedes-Benz. “Obviously, beer is consumed at sporting events. It’s a fun day out with friends and family, and you want to have a couple of beers.
“So we wanted to make sure we had the infrastructure in place to support your ability to get the type of beer you may want at the maximum freshness and quality, and what we feel is a good, fair price, without having to wait too long. We’ve tried to build our whole beer program around those principles.”
To that end, the number of beer taps has grown from 30 at the Georgia Dome to 1,264 at Mercedes-Benz. And the types of beer on offer range from mass-market brands, such as Bud Light and Stella Artois, to specialty brands, such as Goose Island and Ballast Point, plus a half-dozen Georgia craft brands.
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“The overall draft technology has continued to improve, so that we can serve beer across the entire stadium in a way that pours well and pours fresh from event to event,” Gomes said. “I’ve been part of the team that’s gone through the placement of every single one of those taps to try to make sure that we have a nice balance from concession stand to concession stand, quadrant of the stadium to quadrant of the stadium, and concourse to concourse. And that’s so fans don’t have to hunt for the type of beer they’re most interested in.”
That said, Gomes allows that Falcons fans tend to favor light beers like Bud, Coors and Miller, and there will be plenty available to satisfy them. But what may be the best news of all is the pricing, which starts with a 12-ounce domestic draft for $5, and tops out at a 20-ounce premium draft or 16-ounce premium can for $9.
As far as the future, Gomes will be looking at what sells, and will add in-demand beers accordingly. “We may not have Scofflaw in the building, right now, but I’m a guy who’s drinking Basement IPA,” he said. “And if that continues to be hot, maybe that’s another beer you’ll see here.”
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