There are 107 different arenas and stadiums in North America that host NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL competition. All of them also house numerous concession stands selling beer, hot dogs, pretzels, soda and almost anything else a sports fan’s heart could desire. Unfortunately, almost all of them were found to have health violations in 2009, according to a recent study by ESPN. Only ten of those stadiums and arenas aced their health department inspections and only one of the ten came from the New York Metropolitan area: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Overall, government health inspectors discovered that almost 30 percent of the sports venues had serious health violations. Cockroaches crawled over soda dispensers in Pittsburgh, mold grew in ice machines in Milwaukee and mouse droppings were discovered in front of and around food service areas and cash registers at Madison Square Garden. Nothing at the Coliseum though. And it’s all a credit to the arena staff that fans see working hard game in and game out.
“We have a great team here and a great system in place,” said Brooke Camposano, Director of Food & Beverage at SAVOR, the SMG company that provides the Coliseum with its food and beverage services. “Our standard is always the highest it can be. And during an Islanders game or any event, our staff is always at its best.”
During hockey games, staff size can range from 150-180 members, from concession service workers to culinary cooks. With all those employees, managers are constantly on the move, making sure operations are running smoothly. They aren’t sitting behind a desk waiting for reports.
“The staff enjoys coming to work and many of them have been here for years,” said Nick Tierno, Senior Regional Vice President of SAVOR. “Management has a great relationship with the staff and that is reflected in their performance and the recent reports.”
Expectations before the ESPN report may have been the polar opposite of the actual findings. With so many new stadiums and arenas popping up around the continent in recent years, fans are expected to see the pristine outside look as the cover and assume the transfers within. Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, both of which opened two years ago, had near 50 percent of their concessions in violation of health codes. Nassau Coliseum first opened for business in 1972 and Nassau County Health inspectors, who show up at least four times every year, couldn’t find a single thing wrong with any of the 35-plus concession areas.
“It’s sometimes tougher being an old building,” Tierno said. “We have older appliances and it can be harder to keep things up to date and running so well. But, we do it.”
This recent study shows there are many sporting venues out there that need to take a second look at the way their operations are run. Fans are coming to enjoy themselves and can handle food-hangovers or stomach aches from overeating, but vendors are accountable for the preparation of those drinks and that food. The Coliseum has one chef whose sole job is to walk the concourse with his thermometer and make sure the sodas are cold and the hot dogs are, well, hot.
“Being one of only six major American sports venues without a single violation is a huge deal,” Camposano said. “It’s a tribute to everyone here at the Coliseum, from the hard-working staff to the dedicated managers. Everyone really does contribute to the success of our team.”