ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - The fate of the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field has been in question for over a year as officials work to decide if the team will stay, go, or build a new field somewhere else in the area.
In a report that doesn’t help the case for keeping the team at the Trop, Sports Illustrated has ranked the food at Tropicana Field last in its MLB Ballpark Food Safety Rankings.
Food safety ratings from the local health department landed Tropicana Field in the 28th spot out of 28 contenders, (two cities – Cleveland and Detroit - did not respond to records requests from Sports Illustrated).
The magazine went through thousands of inspection reports to complete its report. The writer acknowledged food health standards can vary state to state, but overall, many standards are the same throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The report measured violations, defined as actions that break local food codes, and critical violations, defined as actions linked to the spread of foodborne illnesses.
The Sports Illustrated report shows Tropicana field had 105 critical violations just this year, with 20 each coming from the Trop’s catering operation and the stand outside Section 303. The report notes problems with hand washing, black mold, and insects.
"I think it's just management not being able to get around enough to everywhere and some people slacking on some stuff because they want to slack off at their job," said Michael Riley, a fan who was heading into the Trop to watch the Rays take on the Red Sox Tuesday.
Some fans heard about the report before Tuesday night's game.
"It's kind of an eye-opener," said Marlin Lagesse. "But it is what it is. There's nothing really we can do about it except for just try and eat the best we can while we're here."
Coming in just ahead of Tropicana Field was Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics, with 63 critical violations.
In a statement to FOX 13, the Rays said:
“Each aspect of the fan experience is very important to us and that includes food quality and safety. We understand that Centerplate has taken corrective action for all of these violations and will be taking additional steps to ensure food safety. Moving forward, we will be working cooperatively with both Centerplate and Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation officials to provide even greater oversight of the nightly concessions operations.”
Centerplate, the team's catering company, also released a statement, detailing several actions the business is taking:
“We take this report very seriously and have already cured each of the violations in the SI article. In addition, we are taking the following steps to ensure food safety at Tropicana Field: in cooperation with the Rays, have an independent food safety inspector conduct an immediate analysis of all concessions operations; designate one additional supervisor on site each night dedicated to food safety; and require all staff to undergo the Centerplate food safety training program, again, this week. We remain committed to providing the highest quality guest experience at each of our venues."
Topping the Sports Illustrated MLB Ballpark Food Safety Rankings were the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field and Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.
Read the full report from Sports Illustrated at https://www.si.com/eats/2017/08/08/mlb-food-safety-ballpark-rankings.