Do you need help sticking to your diet? Or perhaps you’d like to avoid spending too much while taking in a game. Heck, maybe you’d just rather not spend the next few days in the bathroom.
Whether your motivations are financial, nutritional, or grounded in the incredibly simple desire to avoid the plague, here is is some information that will surely help you on your way.
Analyzing data from local health department inspection reports, ESPN’s Outside the Lines investigated the 107 arenas and stadiums used by franchises from the “Big 4″: MLB, the NBA, the NFL, and the NHL. The purpose was to determine the relative quality of food service in each location, and the results were often less than appetizing.
Allow me to summarize.
Rule #1: Shun Sunshine State’s Salmonella
If you want to avoid forking over vast sums of money in exchange for a good chance at dysentery, don’t eat while attending sporting events in Florida. A total of 8 locations had a 75% violation rate or higher, meaning between 75% and 100% of food vendors at those stadiums were found to have a critical health hazard.
And 7 of these 8 most offensive venues were located in Florida (the other was Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center).
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (NFL, Jaguars)
Raymond James Stadium (NFL, Buccaneers)
St. Petersburg Time Forum (NHL, Lightning)
Tropicana Field (MLB, Rays)
Amway Arena (NBA, Magic)
American Airlines Arena (NBA, Heat)
Sun Life Stadium (NFL, Dolphins)
Blaming the high local temperatures for accelerated food spoilage is only so convincing considering 4 of these 7 are enclosed stadiums.
The Trop was the worst offender with a 100% violation rate, but all 7 Florida locales fared poorly. Perhaps the state health inspectors are especially vigilant?
#2. Be Aware That Poor Hygiene is Not Regional.
Lest you think that you’re out of danger, know that another 22 locations in 11 different states fell into the 50%-75% violation rate zone. From Oregon to North Carolina, from Michigan to Texas; there are foul foods awaiting you and your wallet all across our great nation. If you want a full-body cleanse the hard way, don’t feel like you have to hop on a plane. Odds are there’s service right around the corner.
The homes of the Detroit Lions, Pistons, and Tigers are in this group, as are those of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. North Carolina’s 3 major sports franchises are represented as well. Denver Colorado appears to be a favorite destination for vermin who like alcohol; both the Pepsi Center and Invesco Field had flies in their liquor.
Dallas (Cowboys, Rangers), Kansas City (Chiefs, Royals), and Nashville (Titans, Predators) each featured a pair of offending stadiums.
#3: When in the I-95 Corridor, Save Your Cash for Tolls.
In addition to the previously mentioned (and still nauseating) Verizon Center, 7 more sites in the mid-Atlantic had a 25% violation rate or better. And before you think that maybe that’s not so bad, reconsider the odds. If 1 in every 4 hot dogs is going to have me hot-footing it to the john, I’d just as soon pass.
Nationals Park (MLB, Nationals)
FedEx Field (NFL, Redskins)
Citizens Bank Park (MLB, Phillies)
Lincoln Financial Field (NFL, Eagles)
Yankee Stadium (MLB, Yankees)
Citi Field (MLB, Mets)
Madison Square Garden (NBA/ NHL, Knicks/ Rangers)
Mouse dropping seem to be the order of the day at MSG, which had a 61% violation rate. The others in this group fell between 25% and 50%.
Before you pull out a fin for those fries, think of how much dough you’ll need to make the trip home. If necessary, pretend you forgot to recharge the E-Z Pass.
Cincinnati, Phoenix, and Atlanta all match the eastern seaboard in this dubious honor. The three cities had multiple venues committing health violations at better than a 25% rate.
So now that we’ve taken a tour through this nightmarish land of digestive upset, what can we do to prevent future difficulties? Is there no place in this world for the sports fan who doesn’t want his cheering with a side of vomit? Rest assured that yes– a few venues got a neat and tidy review from the old health inspector.
California gets a nod for being a surprisingly clean state in this regard. Although none of that state’s locations were complete violation-free, 10 of the 12 Cali sites included in the investigation had a violation rate below 25%.
But in terms of the bacterial battle, the healthiest stadiums clustered around the Great Lakes. Chicago, as it turns out, is a food-friendly city. Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field, and the United Center all came up clean with 0% violation rates. ScotiaBank Place, the Rogers Centre, and the Air Canada Centre, home to the Senators, Blue Jays, and Leafs and Raptors respectively, were violation-free as well.
Something in the Canadian culture?
Oddly enough, the Scottrade Center in St. Louis (NHL, Blues), Nassau Veterans Coliseum (NHL, Islanders), and Gilette Stadium (NFL, Patriots) also got a clean bill of health.
Of course, this is the most cursory of reviews and doesn’t begin to take all factors into account. For a more detailed version, check out ESPN.com or watch Outside the Lines.
In the meantime, wash your hands. And smuggle in your own snacks.