Sporting arenas feed massive quantities of patrons, with the majority of the business taking place during specific, key moments of the game. A glut of health violations, when you think about it realistically, is in no way out of the realm of possibility. Employees are paid minimal wages, and operate in tight quarters, serving food and drink at an often frantic pace. So we probably shouldn't be too surprised by a new report from ESPN's Outside the Lines, which pulled health inspection reports from 107 NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL stadiums across the U.S. and Canada, and came up with some fairly unsettling information.
According to these 2009 reports, at 28% of the 107 arenas, more than half of the concession stands contained what health inspectors called “critical ” or “major” violations. The good news, though, is that while no California stadiums were without violation, they were still among the best in the country. Florida, for example, had 7 stadiums with 75-100% of their vendors in violation (yes, at Tropicana Field, home to the Devil Rays, inspectors found violations at every single stand). California, fortunately, fared much better.
Dodger Stadium had 17% of their concession stands in violation, Staples Center had 11%, Angels Stadium had 16% and the Honda Center just 3%. But then, with health violations, relative success is not particularly comforting.
Though on the other hand, health inspections, and their regulations, vary greatly between states, and even counties. As the ESPN report pointed out, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati for instance, inspectors make their appointments days in advance, giving the stadium plenty of time to prepare. In other cases, a stand may be closed on the day of inspection, and never examined at all. There is also, of course, a certain amount of chance involved in what an inspector will find on any given day.
So next time you go to a game, it might not be a terrible idea to stash a bánh mì down your pant leg on the way in. Sure, that would probably be a health violation too, but at least the food will taste better.