Stadium Foods Safety Report - Not Great

Submitted by xtramelanin on December 13th, 2018 at 3:46 PM


Ran across this one on ESPN, where they did a survey of all the pro stadiums for their food safety/cleanliness.  They allegedly reviewed something like 16,000 inspection reports. They figured 111 venues, but only 107 were still in business.  I know some of you are 'consumers' of pro sports in regards to attending the events and, assumedly, at least the occasional visit to the concession stand.

As for Michigan venues, coming in at next-to-last (106) was the Palace at Auburn Hills.  The Joe came in at number 77.  Comerica at 61 and Little Caesars at 50.  Ford Field was the highest rated local venue at 32.  The link to the article is here:

So a couple of questions come to mind:

1.  What venues on the list have you eaten at, and did you get the willies (or something worse) when you did so?

2.  Whatever happened to naming stadiums after the team or some identifiable local landmark/figure/family?   I miss the days of Tiger Stadium, Briggs Stadium, The Olympia, etc. (yeah, I know, big money)

3.  Assume MgrowOld or FauxMo hit it big in business, do you think one of them would try to buy the naming rights to Michigan Stadium?   "The MgrowOld, Get off my Lawn, Big House" or maybe the "Mr. and Mrs Scary FauxMo Keep Your Kids away Big House"   What others do you think? 



Arb lover

December 13th, 2018 at 3:49 PM ^

Local health inspectors follow state and local health codes for the most part. Which as you can imagine vary by state and locality. Whether inspectors are graded on finding violations also varies widely by culture of the local health departments. As a result these comparisons are only so good. Only 10% of these venues scored less than the average restaurant in the specific locality measured. That's what they should have ranked them against... but didn't. 

I'll give you a specific example. The best place on this list is ranked as Oracle Arena, with a less than 2% violation rate. However Alameda County has inspected 216k establishments in the last 6 years, and this 2% violation rate is actually not out of the ordinary, at all, for the county. Read: it's an average "restaurant". Unless you think that all food prepared in Alameda or California in general is of much cleaner quality that elsewhere.

Contrast this to many local health departments in Michigan, where they try to find at least one violation (and inspectors actually might get graded on whether or not they are finding a reasonable rate of violations). 

Once again, ESPN totally bombs out on a report that does not mean what they think it does. 


December 13th, 2018 at 4:19 PM ^

They've been doing this report for years with the same issues. 

I do some sports and entertainment work. The venues/teams/food service cos have all talked to ESPN about this thing many times but they still do it the way they do it because it does numbers online and gets picked up in every local media market. NY teams HATE this damn thing.

Arb lover

December 13th, 2018 at 6:13 PM ^

This is the other argument that I didn't mention but it's probably relevant as well. This type of food is so expensive relative to the quality (captive audience, right?), it begets complaints to the health department. 

When you consider that only 10% of these establishments are getting lower grades than the average restaurant, when that is directly related to the number and specificity of complaint (I would imagine), I don't know that any of these are really sub-standard establishments. 

Also wasn't aware it was a yearly thing, thanks for sharing Xtramelanin.


December 13th, 2018 at 6:40 PM ^

i didn't know it was an annual gig either.  but question for you arb lover, since you seem to have delved much deeper into the numbers than most - if you are looking at the numbers they show for comparing the stadiums with local restaurants, do you think its worthy of an adjustment that the restaurants are open from, say 300 to 360 days/yr and more likely to be investigated just by shear numbers, while the venues for most of the pro stuff, even if you add in some concerts/boat shows/ice follies, etc. might be open 1/3 rd of the time?

snarling wolverine

December 13th, 2018 at 6:53 PM ^

I knew someone who worked concessions at the Palace for a charity event back in the '90s.  He was telling me then (when the building was new) that the concessions were nasty.  I guess they were never a high priority for the Davidsons.

Aside from the food, though, it was a perfectly fine arena to watch a game in.  


December 13th, 2018 at 3:59 PM ^

Dodger stadium does a pretty good job at keeping clean from what i have seen.  it ranks in the better third of stadiums on this list.  LA County health inspectors don't mess around. 

Only go to restaurants with an A rating.  anything lower than an A will be a crap shoot as to whether you get the shits or not.


EDIT: also, only go for the grilled dodger dogs not the nasty boiled water hot dogs.  who knows whose disgusting hands have touched that water.


December 13th, 2018 at 4:43 PM ^

People kept telling me I had to try the Dodger dog at Dodger stadium. Get that Dodger dog they all said. So I did. It was a 8 dollar skinny, tasteless, disappointment. I expected it to have something, anything, that differentiated it from any other hot dog because of all the hype. Perhaps people were fucking with me, I don't know. Ill stick with the nachos with that fake, crappy, utterly delicious cheese sauce.

tl/dr booooooo Dodger dogs


December 13th, 2018 at 4:08 PM ^

It's moot since the Palace is no longer in use, of course, but I always had the impression that it was run at least reasonably well over the years and I never really thought about that per se, although we traditionally would eat before we got to The Palace, so at most the food investment was a pop and a small snack. 


December 13th, 2018 at 4:11 PM ^

One thing about LCA that is great is their Slows BBQ. I got a brisket Mac and cheese bowl for 12 dollars and was able to serve both my wife and I and then some. 

Best tasting stadium/arena food I’ve had from a stand for sure.

scanner blue

December 13th, 2018 at 4:12 PM ^

I last bought a hot dog at Michigan Stadium in the late 90’s. Went home and had stomach cramps all through an evening game, followed by a rough overnight. I do eat my employee meal now in Crisler, but unless I have a comp ticket, I’m not eating in the Stadium . I don’t even bring any money most events.


December 13th, 2018 at 4:28 PM ^

I have thought a lot about this topic, and after considering it carefully I have discovered that I like, like food, preferably in copious quantities.  So if I go to a place and they have food, of really any kind or quality, I am probably going to eat an uncomfortable amount of it.


December 13th, 2018 at 5:13 PM ^

This seems, to me, to be one of those cases of data answering questions that aren't being asked. As others have explained, this doesn't seem to tell us what we need to know.

FWIW I try to avoid eating foot at stadiums if at all possible. The prices are absurd and I just don't have that kind of money. I will occasionally buy one snack-ish item if my kids are with me (a $5 box of popcorn or something) but nowadays I'll go to some lengths to eat a full meal before I enter the gate. 

$12 for a bbq brisket mac and cheese bowl and that's a good deal? Don't get me wrong, it sounds tasty, but the fact that someone can call that a good deal tells me everything I need to know. 


December 13th, 2018 at 6:48 PM ^

SRJK i am with you for the most part.  i'll try to make sure the kids eat a ton outside of the stadium so that they won't be hungry inside, or if they are, its not much more than snack food or the occasional hot dog, hot chocolate, or pizza.  and we'll have food in the truck for the ride back up north, also cutting the food bill. 


December 13th, 2018 at 10:57 PM ^

Hot-n-Ready before, Hot-n-Ready after, then maybe Wendy's cookies and frosties via the frosty-w-purchase tags.

I can feed an army (and I have an army) for almost ($40) what I'd pay in groceries for the day ($25). Same little army in stadium food, and we're talking $200, and they're still hungry on the way home.

Of course, with the army we can afford to attend the Spring Game, and that's about it.

True Blue Grit

December 13th, 2018 at 5:13 PM ^

All these places are still better than the old Tiger Stadium.  I remember walking through the dirty looking concession areas that smelled like old moldy spilled beer, and had greasy looking cement walkways.  


December 13th, 2018 at 5:26 PM ^

Dive a little deeper into some of the "high level" violations.  One of the Detroit stadiums was busted for using refrigerated raisins that were 10 days outdated.


December 13th, 2018 at 6:30 PM ^

I can tell you, I grew up in Lansing and our church often worked concession stands at MSU football and basketball games (as a fundraiser).  We always did our best to do everything correct, and by the rules, but with such little training and many volunteer groups cycling through, I would imagine some iffy stuff may happen occasionally.   


Most food was precooked.  We had to heat up the hot dogs, bratwurst, pretzels, etc but still...


December 13th, 2018 at 7:57 PM ^

I don't eat at games, doesn't matter the venue.  The only thing I rarely buy at Michigan games is lemon chills/hot chocolate if wife's comfort level demands it. 

If the prices haven't turned you off yet then maybe this will. I hope the Mercedes-Benz Stadium concession model takes off everywhere. Lower prices for better food would change my mind.


December 13th, 2018 at 8:44 PM ^

Not a professional arena, but I bought hot dogs for the family at the Richmond Coliseum a few years back, during a monster truck thingy.  The wife broke the kids hot dog in half to make it easier for hm to eat, and found that the bun was green in the middle - mold.  I took them all back and had no issue getting a refund!

We only got popcorn there when I took them to the Ringling Brothers last circus in Richmond...


December 13th, 2018 at 10:04 PM ^

I work at LCA to fundraise for my kids hockey bills.

We are pretty clean, and do a lot to respect and maintain cleanliness.  Also, there are 'supervisors' everywhere.  That said, I've seen my share of gross shit.  I also regularly see things that would never fly at any restaurant I have ever worked in.

Thing is, you are using volunteers for a majority of your food and beverage sales, and they simply don't know about keeping food at correct temps, avoiding cross contamination, or basic food cleanliness.

Also, they charge our group for any waste, we don't worry about it (there are forms to fill) but I could, and have, seen people use things rather than risk it costing their groups fundraising.