Sports Illustrated ranks MLB stadiums on food safety dangers

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Sports Illustrated is out with its 2017 MLB Ballpark Food Safety Rankings, showing where the playoffs could be most dangerous for fans.

SI collected public records data from 28 local health departments to compile the rankings. However, inspection agencies for Cleveland’s Progressive Field and Detroit’s Comerica Park did not respond to the iconic magazine’s records requests.

Seattle’s Safeco Field, home of the Mariners, is ranked as the safest ballpark in America for food. It’s 72 separate concession locations had only five violations total, with only one critical violation, during the most recent inspections.

Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, brings up the rear in the SI rankings. At No. 28, Tropicana chalked up 241 violations, including 105 that were critical.

Last season, Major League Baseball reported total paid attendance of 73,159,044 or an average of 30,059 per game in 2,425 contests. All are in the customer base for ballpark concessions.

This late in the baseball season, the SI rankings might be used by fans who want to avoid foodborne disease during the playoffs. And that might not be easy.

Take Nationals Park, where the Washington Nationals lead the National League East. It holds the No. 24 spot in the SI rankings with 49 violations and 18 critical violations. Only 24 of the concessions stands included the most recent inspection, which was the day after 2017’s opening day.

Going to the NL West leader’s home park, Dodger Stadium, and it only gets worse. Home of the surging Los Angeles Dodgers, the stadium racked up 247 violations, including 60 critical violations. It was written up frequently for improper holding temperatures, broken equipment, and dirty food-contact surfaces.

The rankings suggest the best thing to bring to playoff games between the Nats and Dodgers will be a strong stomach. The lineup in the NL Central looks better from a food safety perspective.

The Chicago Cubs currently lead the division, meaning playoff games at Wrigley Field, which was ranked No. 8 by SI. With the third fewest critical violations at 8, half the concessions at Wrigley had no violations. If the Cubs are playing the surviving wild card team, that’s likely to be either the Diamond Backs or the Rockies.

Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play mile high baseball, was ranked No. 4 by SI, and the D-Backs Chase Field was No. 5. With 29 violations, including 27 critical, among its 82 concessions, Coors Field does have rodent problems. At Chase Field, employee hygiene was an issue with 44 total violations including 23 critical.

It might be easier to get on base for food safety in the American League.

If for example, the AL East’s Boston Red Sox played the AL West’s Houston Astros in the division playoffs, fans would be moving from the No. 2 ranked ballpark, Fenway, to the No. 3 venue, Minute Maid Park.

Fenway had only two critical violations out of 30 total violations. It had some equipment issues. Minute Maid Park had 28 violations, including nine critical. It had to replace some missing floor tiles and stop reusing popcorn buckets.

The Cleveland Indians are atop the AL Central, but inspection reports for Progressive Field are among the missing. The AL wild cards are up in the air. The Yankees will likely be one. For the other Kansas City, Seattle and Tampa are all possibilities.

An Indians-Yankees series would go from the Progressive Field mystery to Yankee Stadium, No. 21 in the SI rankings. Flies and inadequate vermin proofing helped Yankee Stadium score 57 violations, including 24 critical violations.

Complete ballpark food safety rankings are available from SI here.

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