There are many reasons to go watch your favorite team play live. You could heckle their opponents, get into fights with opposing fans, or even propose to your loved one. But let's be honest. The real reason any of us go to sporting events is to pig out. However, fans might think twice before biting down on their favorite in-game treat after an Outside the Lines report released on Thursday, revealed persistent health code violations at stadium concession stands all over the country and across all major professional sports.
OTL looked at more than 16,000 food-safety inspection reports that track the 111 professional football, hockey, basketball and baseball venues across North America. Four venues, Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., the Toyota Center in Houston, TX, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA, and the Bell Centre, in Montreal, Quebec Canada, couldn't provide enough data to be included, but that doesn't mean there aren't issues. After going over routine reports from 2016 and 2017, OTL found that over a quarter of the venues sustained what ESPN is calling "a high-level violation—one that poses a potential threat for foodborne illness," in half or more of their food-service outlets.
That wrench you just got in your gut is understandable. Logically speaking, it's a high enough percentage that if you're someone who enjoys the live fan experience, there's a solid chance your stomach has protested at least one meal. The report also tabulated the average number of the high-level violations per inspection at the venue, and compared it—for the 82 venues that had the surrounding community data, via Hazel Analytics—with the average for restaurants and other eateries in the area, so you can't just shrug off the findings as a consequence of environment.
The three worst arenas still operating (Detroit's Palace at Auburn Hills, was the former home of the Red Wings and Pistons before Little Ceasars Arena arrived in September of last year) are:
- Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. home of the Hornets, with 92 percent of food outlets reporting a high-level violation. Hornets fans should smack MJ upside his head.
- American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX., home of the Mavs and the NHL's Stars with over 86 percent reporting a high-level violation. It seems Mark Cuban upgraded everything for the team, but forgot about the fans.
- Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. home of the Panthers with over 82 percent reporting.
The three best:
- Oracle Arena (1.12 percent high-level violation), where the Warriors play, which is saying something since the building itself is dilapidated enough they're moving into a new building in San Francisco starting next season.
- State Farm Arena (4.17 percent high-level violations) in Atlanta, GA, and home of the Hawks.
- NRG Stadium (4.44 percent high-level violations) in Houston, Texas, home of the Texans.
Stay safe out there sports fans, and watch what you eat. We deliberately avoided the particular offenses revealed in the report because scare tactics are the currency of buffoons.