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ESPN vendor inspection: Caps' Verizon Center dirtiest in NHL

Jul 25, 2010, 3:39 PM EST

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verizoncenter.jpgIt’s always an “out of sight, out of mind” experience when you go to get your favorite food at the concession stand in your favorite NHL arena. You don’t think about where the food and drinks come from, and you just want to enjoy your hot dog and beer or soda in peace without putting too much thought into just how it ended up in your hands in the first place. ESPN released a report on an inspection of vendors across all four major sports that was conducted back in 2009 to see how up to code, health-wise, each stadium and arena was doing.

For some NHL fans, and Washington Capitals fans in particular, you might want to grab that beer and food somewhere else before or after the game instead. Be prepared, some of these descriptions are pretty stomach-turning.

Verizon Center
Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals
Vendors with critical violations: 100%

Inspection report excerpt: Mice droppings, a critical violation in Washington, were found at at least 10 vendors.

Hang on a second while I vomit profusely.

To clarify what that 100% rating means, it means the number of vendors in violation of health requirements. While it doesn’t mean that all vendors at Verizon Center had mouse droppings (shudder) it does mean that each stand had something wrong going on there whether it was having vendors handling food with bare hands, having cleaning supplies too close to serving areas, or having food being served that was too cold.

Other arenas that didn’t fare well on the survey, here’s three terrifying examples.

St. Pete Times Forum
Tampa Bay Lightning
Vendors with critical violations: 88%

Inspection report excerpt: At one location with five critical violations, an inspector saw an employee handle dirty dishes and then put away clean dishes without washing his/her hands or changing gloves. The same location lacked soap at a hand sink.

Pepsi Center
Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche
Vendors with critical violations: 67%

Inspection report excerpt: At one bar, inspectors found phorid flies, sometimes called coffin flies, in a bottle of cognac.

Madison Square Garden
New York Knicks, New York Rangers
Vendors with critical violations: 61%

Inspection report excerpt: At one stand, inspectors found “53 mouse excreta” (38 on top of a metal box underneath the cash registers in the front food-prep/service area and 15 on top of a carbonated-beverage dispensing unit).

Not everything was doom and gloom on this report, there are some places that had exception scores. What may not be too surprising is that all arenas in Canada scored very well.  While this isn’t meant to be a completely damning report, you can certainly bet that Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis will certainly have the staff at Verizon Center buckling down. Bad PR like this doesn’t do anyone any favors and I know it would make me think really long and hard about whether or not I’d want to get anything in any of these arenas ever again.

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