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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hard to Believe

but PETA has named Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park the most vegeterian friendly ballpark in the country. Click here and read all about it.

And then laugh, because they're digging pretty deep here to give out this honor.

Look, I like it when my hometown gets plaudits, but this plaudit is a stretch. Vegan offerings? Vegeterian offerings? Where? In one tiny corner of the stadium?

The place is a red meat-eateria, plain and simple. There's a 40-minute wait in line for steak sandwiches at Tony Luke's, where you also can get a pork sandwich with broccoli rabe and provolone. There is a ten-minute wait (at least) for "crab" fries at Chickie's and Pete's, and Greg Luzinski's "Bull's Barbecue" offers ribs, pulled pork, pit beef and turkey sandwiches. The lines are pretty long there, too. And then there are other concessions, like Rick's Steaks, a rival to Tony Luke's, and the "regular" concession stands, that seemingly offer only hot dogs, grilled sausage and steak sandwiches.

Whole Foods it is not.

Not even close.

And then there's the alcohol issue. Sure, there are wandering vendors who sell peanuts and Crackerjack and even novelties from the newstand, but outside an occasional frozen lemonade or real lemonade, a large majority of the vendors sell beer. And a good many fans drink that beer, and many drink more than one. Which is problematic because unlike Nationals' Park, where almost everyone can take the D.C. Metro to get to it, I'd bet that only about 10% of the fans at Citizens Bank Park take public transportation, many come alone and meet friends, and most have more than a 10-mile drive to get home. So what does Phillies' management do? They sell thousands of bottles of (overpriced) beer. Not only is there a drunk-driving risk to that strategy, there's also a family-enjoyment risk, assuming that Major League Baseball would prefer families to twenty-somethings who want to socialize at the new ballpark and haven't figured out that the earlier you start saving for retirement the earlier you can retire. Put differently, whether or not they have lots of disposable income, what income they have they tend to dispose of quickly.

So should the Phillies' and ARAMARK rejoice in the PETA honor? Hardly. It's not that they've done anything close to remarkable, it's just that the other parks must stink so badly at this that the Phillies shine by example. It's kind of like being the best hockey player in Ecuador.

And, after all, despite my grouper-eating exercise in fine dining at Nationals' Park on Saturday night, if you're going to eat some allotment of red meat, what better place to do it than at a baseball game. Along with your crab fries, Coke and bag of peanuts for later in the game.

I'm all for having a Whole Foods-type concession at Citizens Bank Park, or even two of them, but then let's do it right and enable fans to eat healthy once and for all. That would be a great idea and make the Phillies truly unique, and I'd bet that about 15% of the fans would take advantage of that option.

Instead, the Phillies peddle what they peddle, which is more likely to get them cited by the American Cardiology Association than it is feted for a pioneering moment in vegetarian cuisine.


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