Ordering food at Minute Maid Park just got a lot easier. No lines!

If you read this blog even semi-regularly, you probably know by now we love to talk about food. Not just food, but specifically, Minute Maid Park food, which offers everything from standard ballpark fare to comfort food to some of the best Tex-Mex in town.

So it’s only fitting that an ever-evolving concession menu would also ebb and flow as modern technology continues to make more of a presence at Major League ballparks. The Astros’ newest venture allows fans to order food right from their seats, using nothing but a smart phone.

The Astros, ARAMARK and MLB Advanced Media recently introduced the launch of Express Line, a way to order food from an iPhone using the MLB.com At Bat application. Minute Maid Park is the first MLB ballpark to debut the Express Line pick up service and the second to use this mobile food ordering service.

On Monday, we decided to try it out. I solicited the help of Steve Reese, the Astros’ Senior Director of Information Technology — a logical partner in crime, considering he understands all the high-tech mumbo jumbo that the rest of us often struggle to decipher.

And wouldn’t you know — the process is as easy as one-two-three. You can see our tutorial video here, or, you can follow these simple instructions:

1. Download the MLB.com At Bat from the App Store;
2) Choose Astros as your favorite team;
3) Select “Minute Maid Park;”
4) Select “Order Food.”

Your screen will show the concession stand to closest proximity to where you’re sitting, and you can then choose from all of the available menu items. Your order will be securely processed — credit card numbers are not stored.

Once your order is processed, you will be alerted via text message that your food is ready for immediate pick-up at the specially-designated Express Line concession locations.

Ordering food via At Bat does not require a pre-authorized account prior to beginning the purchase process. There is a 99-cent convenience fee.

Here are the concession stands where you can order from based on their seating location at Minute Maid Park: Princes at 134: Sections 125-156; Princes at 418: Sections 305-322 and 405– 422; Goya at 119: Sections 116-124; Union Station at 113: Sections 100-114; Extreme Dog/Kickin Nacho at 427: Sections 323-338 and 423-438.

Our test-run took about five minutes from start to finish, which included deciding what we wanted to order, ordering the food, getting the notification that it’s ready and picking up the order.

The app is offered through the iPhone only, but an Android app should be available by July.
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The new food ordering app is just one of many new features offered at Minute Maid Park this year that involve exclusive content and social media interaction. The others:

* Check-in: Accessible two hours prior to every scheduled home game, fans can check-in at Minute Maid Park and deliver personal messages instantly across Twitter and Facebook.

* Offers: Unlock special offers, discounts and rewards exclusively available to fans using At Bat at Minute Maid Park.

* My Profile: Tracks individual activity history, showing the number of games attended, ballparks visited, teams seen and teams’ records in those games, among other customizable options.

* Venue Maps: View venue maps and complete concession menus. The maps and directories utilize the pinch-and-zoom functionality of iPhone for zoom in and out features ability across the entire venue map, allowing fans to quickly identify and navigate locations for concessions, restrooms, first aid stations, ATMs, souvenirs and customer service representatives.

* Social Media: Fans also can engage in Facebook Connect and the community of 140-character conversations in-and-around Minute Maid Park with Twitter. In addition to being able to send messages directly from within the App, fans can read Tweets coming from the ballpark, as determined by geolocation technology, from other fans using designated hashtags (#astros) and from followers’ replies to the original messages.

* Video Highlights: The in-game video highlight experience within MLB.com At Bat has been enhanced exclusively for fans that have a verified check-in by offering a set of bonus in-game highlights exclusively for that individual game.

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Questions? Email afooter@astros.com

8 Comments

It would be even better if they would bring the food to you so you would not miss the game.

That is too cool. As much as I love cramped old school parks like Wrigley, technology in the ballpark is pretty awesome.

Great concept given all the technological gadgets we all carry, but come on now, a 99-cent fee to place an order on overly-priced food? Season ticket holders still have to pay a $2 fee to electronically transfer tickets to someone and the program is three years old. This new program is just another example of MLB milking the fan base for every penny possible while they disguise the program as being fan friendly.

I’d pay 99 cents easy to not have to stand in those lines for 15-20 mins. I’d rather miss 2-3 mins this way than miss all that time in line. Well worth it

I have the free MLB at Bat app, called At Bat Lite… and it looks like I can order food. Don’t think you need to purchase the .99 cent app. But I can’t confirm until I’m there and try it out. I think it’s pretty cool! I think it perfect not everywhere provides it too. What is a ballpark without standing in a line every now and then? LOL…

My bad guys… I thought you meant the app charge. I see the .99 convenience fee… I agree with you there then! I shouldn’t have to pay extra for something saving the park money? One less person to stand there and swipe credit cards??? hm? Go figure!

Ordering food at MMP is usually not a problem. Well, not big enough a problem to create a “high tech” app to order food from a remote location and the “convience fee” of 99 cents. How about a “quality assurance” fee of a 99 cents to ensure consistent quality (ie. hot hot dogs, and hot bbq sandwiches/ potatoes)? Or about a delivery fee? Why not, all of the pizza places now do so for at least $3.

Now the reason main reason for my post is the “some of the best Tex-Mex in town” quote. I know this article is about the food ordering app. But, Please let me state my case because I beg to differ. First, Sheriff Blaylock’s molten lava cheese topped on cardboard triangles doesn’t qualify for Tex-Mex. Yeah, they’re ballpark nachos and yes I am sucker for thermoplastic yellow “cheese”. But, not even Rotel can make these nachos to classified as Tex-Mex. And second, I’ve never seen or had the desire to eat enchiladas or tacos at the game. Maybe at the old Nine Amigos in centerfield. And finally, this quote insults the city of Houston dozen’s of quality Tex-Mex joints.
Note; good Margaritas doesn’t equate to a good Mexican restaraunt.

Did you actually try this (without Steve Reese’s help) before you posted it?! It ain’t quite as simple as steps 1,2,3,4.

I went to the app store & searched with “MLB.com”. I found “MLB.com At Bat 11″ (for $14.99) & “MLB.com At Bat LIte” (for free). I’m not a die-hard baseball fan, I just didn’t have time for dinner before a game & was curious about what menu items were offered at Minute Maid, so I opted for the free version.

After installing and selecting Minute Maid as a favorite Park, I tried “Order Food”, which only lead me to an install screen for “Fan Direct”.

After installing Fan Direct, an attempt to look at the menu from my home just resulted in a “sorry dude, you’re not at a supported venue” message. After arriving at the park, an attempt to Order Food thru Fan Direct & thru MLB.com At Bat Lite just lead to prompts for an MLB.com account and password.

I did note that when I arrived, all concession registers were cash only. I don’t know how inter-related the two are, but I was unimpressed.

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