Sports Illustrated studied health inspection reports from 28 ballparks across America and calculated their food safety ratings. Coors Field ranked 4th best. But that's not the whole story.

If you've ever chowed down on a juicy foot-long Rockie Dog while rootin' on the Rox, I'm willing to bet that the food vendor's health inspection report never even entered your mind. I mean, when you're there, you're soaking up the full ballpark experience. Coors Field comes alive with the sights, sounds, and smells of baseball, and even if the team isn't doing too well, just the atmosphere alone is worth the effort of going down there. [gallery size="full" ids="21064,21057,21061"] But just like any food service, ballpark vendors are answerable to the city's health department, and Sports Illustrated did some digging to see how parks' health inspections fared across the country. Coors Field scored highly overall, clinching 4th best out of the 28 parks that were studied. However, more of Coors Field's food stands (82) underwent health inspections in 2017 than most of the other parks, so the ratio of violations to inspected premises is actually quite low. Even so, there have been 27 critical violations. (Um, what?)
Despite the fact that most of its violations are critical, Coors Field makes it into the top five because of its large number of inspected stands. One of the major problems at the stadium was rodents. Dozens of droppings were observed in both the main kitchen and the warehouse. Other issues included employees who couldn’t answer the investigator’s food safety questions and hand sinks that were inaccessible or lacked soap," Sports Illustrated's report says.
So back to the, um, "rodent issue." On June 22, the Denver Health Department wrote this about the Aramark Main Kitchen: "Approximately (~) 15 rodent droppings on the outside of two hot holding carts, ~ 5 rodent droppings on a pipe attached to the wall in preparation area, ~ 3 rodent droppings on the floor in the concession area, 5 rodent droppings on the ground under the ice machine, ~ 20 rodent droppings on the ground under the soda station, ~ 10 rodent droppings on the ground in the mop room, ~ 30 rodent droppings on the ground in the suite preparation kitchen, ~ 10 rodent droppings on the ground in the buffet station room, ~ 3 rodent droppings on pizza boards in the buffet suite room. Evidence of pests shall be frequently removed from control devices and premises. Re-inspection required." [gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="21059,21058"]
The Aramark Receiving Warehouse also showed signs of rodents: "Approximately (~) 10 rodent droppings in the 10-C3 zone of the warehouse, ~ 15 rodent droppings in zone 7-8 in the warehouse, ~ 15-20 rodent droppings by the ice machine in the ware house, ~ 5 rodent droppings on the IT windowsill. Evidence of pests shall be frequently removed from control devices and premises. Re-inspection required." As of July 6, all pest violations in the warehouse had been rectified. Other Coors Field violations over the last few months included:
  • missing paper towels at employee hand-washing stations
  • an improperly functioning hood vent
  • open employee beverages being kept next to customer food
  • food items that had been prepared more than four hours in advance
  • improperly temped foods
  • improperly stored chemicals and cleaning fluids
  • absence of sanitizing solution
  • raw hotdogs sitting on the counter for more than two hours
[gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="21063,21060"] It could be worse, however. Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, had a whopping 241 violations, 105 of which were critical. They came in very last on the list at No. 28. Violations included the "observed presence of live insects," "black mold accumulating inside an ice bin," and "an employee ... handling hot dogs and cash without washing hands in between." Other ballparks' noteworthy violations:
  • a live roach observed at Globe Life Park at Arlington, No. 20 (Texas Rangers)
  • infestation of flies at Yankee Stadium, No. 21 (New York Yankees)
  • food prep being "carried out on top of a trash receptacle" at Citizens Bank Park, No. 12 (Philadelphia Phillies)
Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners) was the best performing ballpark, followed by No. 2, Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox), and No. 3, Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros).
For the full report, and to see the methodology for how Sports Illustrated calculated their numbers, click here. Even though Coors Field scored highly overall, the most alarming thing (for me, at least) is the problem with rodents. I mean, I understand that those pesky little pests like to creep their way into any place that houses food, and that old buildings are often the unwilling recipients of these guests. But yuck! What do you think? Are you surprised by the report? Will you be thinking twice before eating ballpark food? Tell us in the comments!
*Featured image is not of an actual Coors Field mouse.

There's mice, and then there's rabbits. Do we have a rabbit epidemic in Denver?