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Here’s why Shake Shack, and not In-n-Out, is at Dodger Stadium


Shake Shack opened at Dodger Stadium this week. The most common reaction among the Dodger faithful: Where is In-N-Out? Why must we eat a good New York burger where we could eat a great L.A. burger?

You, gentle Dodgers fan, are not alone in your love for In-N-Out. Jason Giambi, the onetime American League most valuable player, grew up in West Covina. After he signed with the New York Yankees, he tried to open an In-N-Out in New York. He failed.

In-N-Out does not open locations in New York — or, for that matter, anywhere east of Texas. And sorry, hungry Dodger fan: In-N-Out does not open locations within major sports venues.

“Sponsorship of a major sports team, stadium or arena, isn’t a strategy that we have chosen to take advantage of,” said Denny Warnick, In-N-Out executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Jeff Marks, chief executive of Los Angeles-based Innovative Partnerships Group, matches teams, leagues and venues with corporate sponsors. He said he does not pursue business from In-N-Out.

“I haven’t called them in 10 years,” Marks said.

The Dodgers did not respond to multiple requests for comment about why the team did not partner with any local burger company.

For In-N-Out or any other company, selling its burgers at a ballpark would involve more than setting up a grill and a credit card reader.

Marks said the Dodgers, like many other teams, would want to include the concession rights in a broader sponsorship deal that could include broadcast advertisements, social media promotions, stadium signage, hospitality suites and more. He said such deals typically cover multiple years and cost six or seven figures.

He said some restaurants fret over quality control in a ballpark setting. And, even as fans expect to pay a premium for ballpark food, Marks said some restaurants worry about negative reaction from consumers.

In-N-Out, with headquarters inside a nondescript Irvine building fronted by a Kumon tutoring center, priced its burgers from $2.80 to $4.45 at a nearby location Thursday.

In-N-Out prices near its headquarters.

(Bill Shaikin / Los Angeles Times)

Shake Shack priced its burgers from $5.49 to $10.69 at a Pasadena location Thursday, according to an online menu, and from $8.50 to $14.00 at Dodger Stadium.

Shake Shack prices at Dodger Stadium.

(Bill Shaikin / Los Angeles Times)

“When it comes to sports teams, we prefer to sponsor local school or community teams in an effort to support the communities where we do business,” Warnick said.

“While we are thankful for the feedback we have received from loyal customers over the years suggesting that we open an In-N-Out Burger in the stadium of their favorite team, I don’t anticipate that we will expand into the concession business in the foreseeable future.”

In-N-Out, which launched in Baldwin Park in 1948, has a longstanding relationship with drag racing. Harry Snyder, the co-founder of In-N-Out, was half-owner of Irwindale Raceway. Lynsi Snyder-Ellingson, the current chief executive and Snyder’s granddaughter, has raced in the NHRA.

Chris Hartweg, publisher of Team Marketing Report, said the most recent In-N-Out sports sponsorships he could find beyond racing involved a now-defunct independent league baseball team, a minor league basketball team and an ultimate Frisbee team.

“They are not spending major league money on sports sponsorships because they don’t think they need to,” Hartweg said. “And who can argue with their delicious success?”

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