[Update] Bob Pascal, an executive with Centerplate was just on with the Big Dog Steve Duemig (620 WDAE). First, he assured that despite the report from ESPN, all of the concession stands at Tropicana Field “meet all inspection standards in the state of Florida.” He also spent a good deal of time talking about Centerplate’s Quality Assurance standards.

Pascal said there are methods of measuring sales beyond counting cups and was adamant that “these [used] cups were not served [to fans]”…It is unclear how he knows this, but that is their story.

[10:00am] Last week, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” investigated health department inspection reports from from 107 stadiums and arenas that host MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL teams. Of those reports, Tropicana Field was one of only two stadiums/arenas in which 100% of the vendors were cited with “critical violations.

Even though the violations were deemed “critical,” one executive that oversees the concession stands at The Trop claims that the violations were “simply recommendations.”

After the report came out, we spoke with one person that worked in a concession stand during a recent Rays game. She told us a story that goes well-beyond “critical violation” and may make you think twice the next time you are about to order a beer at a Rays game.

Rays Index: You said that afer a recent game, there was a problem with the number of beers sold at a concession stand you were working at. Can you explain exactly what the problem was?

Concession Worker: At the end of the night, the person that oversees all the concession stands comes around counts the number of cups, trays, food items, etc and that is compared to the number sold (according to the cash register records) and whatever inventory count was at the beginning of the night. Apparently, the number of beers sold and the number of cups left at the end of the night did not match.

RI: What exactly did your supervisor ask you guys to do to fix this problem? And what exactly did you guys end up doing?

CW: One of the workers came back with some used cups and began washing them. When I asked her what she was doing, she stated that the “supervisor” told her to rinse off the cups and put them with the unused ones, because our “spoils” were too high in this concession stand.

RI: Just to be clear, were these cups that had already been used by previous customers?

CW: YES! This is what was so appauling! We each had like a box underneath our registers for trash and such. These were cups people had left behind for us to throw away.

Well, that seems pretty damn disgusting. Is it illegal or against the health code? We don’t know. Can these plastic cups be sufficiently cleaned? Glasses at restaurants are re-used. Then again, we’d like to think that those glasses were never in the trash.

Ultimately, most (all?) fans expect a new cup when being served at a sporting event. And to us, that seems like a reasonable expectation.

We contacted the Rays with this story and asked them

if they were making any extra efforts in light of the recent ESPN report and whether they wanted to comment on this story. The Rays gave us no indication that anything would be done and simply referred us to Centerplate, the company contracted to run the concession stands at Tropicana Field. When we asked the Rays if they were refusing to comment on the issue, they responded with one word: “correct.”

Do the Rays care that items might be pulled from the trash and served to customers or that a concession supervisor might be cooking the books? We don’t know. And next time you order food or beer at The Trop, neither will you.

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27 Comments

  1. Erick says:

    That's pretty sick Chubbs!

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  2. Beth says:

    One of the best things about Tropicana Field is that they let you bring in your own food (and non alcoholic drinks). Now we've all got further incentive to take advantage of that!

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  3. I can tell from personal experience that ushers are told if guests trip and fall with their beer ushers can get them a new beer without cost. Then the stand has one less cup than sale. There are also workers who "help" customers "acquire" beer for less than the 9 dollar cost. It doesn't happen often, but I guess it happens enough to have disgusting reprecussions.

    Thanks for the reporting, Cork!

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  4. Mike says:

    Who cares? The boggs in aluminum bottles are the way to go anyway. Plus, the beer guys give you the 24 oz. can if you don't want to leave your seat. No need for a cup at the trop.

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  5. Joe D. says:

    This sort of thing usually doesn't get to me, because it's usually like soup sitting on a kettle wasn't stirred every half hour, or a scoop wasn't used when they put over in your drink, they scooped ice directly in the cup.

    But this is nasty, I'm sure that these cups aren't cleaned in the huge industrial dish washers like at restaurants, the person interviewed said rinsed not cleaned. That's disgusting even of our was just a cup sitting on the counter that someone left behind, it was in the trash, got rinsed not cleaned, and the person the next day payed $7 for that drink.

    I know the Rays don't hire or run this company, but as long as their name and logos are on these cups, they need to own up, and say that this is unacceptable.

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    • Joe,
      I worked in a bar for three weeks that didn't have a dishwasher. All I had to do was rinse the glasses in soapy water, then hot water, then let them dry. Not even wipe them down. Odds are most hole in the wall bars are like this.

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  6. Gus says:

    I hate to tell you that this probably happens everywhere were you've got sales based on cups, 7-11 to football stadiums. Not saying it is right, but I am saying if you are a beer vendor and you need to square the inventory, if you are 10 cups off at $9 a beer that $90 that is more than you are making, so the incentive is to fudge (or rinse the cups and pocket some extra money yourself).

    Bottled beer is available and probably the better option anyway.

    I've never really liked the Rays concessions anyway as the pricing has always been super-aggressive and the quality pretty poor. Maybe this gives managment the chance to re-bid to a different vendor.

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    • Clark Brooks says:

      Gus is exactly right. And since cup inventory = money, the worker needs to go above this supervisor's head. Because regardless whether anybody believes Centerplate and/or the Rays care about sanitation and food handling, I guarantee they care a great deal about employee theft. Tell her to use the chain of command; she won't have to go any further than the first person who doesn't want to fired and/or arrested. Trust me.

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  7. Justin says:

    It goes without saying that if this is the status quo, these bums don't deserve a new stadium.

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  8. zenny says:

    Not to be an apologist, but this kinda stuff happens more than you know.

    One of my first jobs was at a concession stand at a still-popular local movie theater. Management did the same inane cup count to try to tell if anybody was giving away product, and it was a very big deal if just one was missing. Almost every day, somebody would be short and would have to quickly find another cup (used or not) to add to their stock.

    This might make some people not want to eat or drink anything that they didn't make themselves from scratch. Meh, I say. It'll strengthen your immune system.

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  9. josh blue says:

    and this is why the trop had the worst record of health violations on any ballpark (100% of the vendors at the trop were busted for serious health violations)

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  10. nadaRay says:

    How are they short cups? Has anyone seen the Rays pathetic attendance... if anything they should have thousands of new cups available.

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  11. Russ says:

    Couldn't find the link, but wasn't there a beer vendor at RJS that was fired/arrested for something similar to this? I thought he collected used cups to resell and pocket the money or something like that.

    I'm just saying that this is probably not an isolated incident.

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  12. Mike says:

    Nasty

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  13. And people have wondered why you never see a beer in my hand.....except a bottle of cold Coors Light at Fergs.

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  14. Milk says:

    20 years ago my fraternity sold draft beer in a stand alone concession at the Old Sombrero. They used to account for their sales by cup count, not by volume (as a legit bar does) We used to tell friends and acquaintances to bring their cups back to buy from us and we would refill them and put their payment into the tip jar (which we could keep). We also made a % of sales. Not something I'm proud of doing but I can see how someone would be incensed to recycle cups in order to up their sales/or to have some extra in the til that management would not know about that could be pocketed by the supervisor...

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  15. Don says:

    I don't care if they use the cups again..but what about a discount...the cup cost more than the beer...$8.00 CUP....
    Damn...

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  16. Clark says:

    "Pascal...was adamant that “these [used] cups were not served [to fans]“…It is unclear how he knows this, but that is their story."

    He's probably saying that the re-used cups were re-entered into the inventory but counted as "spoilage". Each stand has an allowance for items that get damaged or are otherwise unsuitable for sale. These "spoiled" items get discarded at the end of the day, but have to be physically counted first. You can't say "we had 50 beer cups with holes in them so we threw them away". They're not going to take your word for that. The supervisor is going to have to see them or else you're on the hook for 50 cups at whatever price they sell for.

    Hopefully, that's what happened here because the alternative is too disgusting to think about.

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