The Rays were dead last in SI’s ballpark food safety rankings.
The Rays are suing Centerplate, their former concession provider, for breach of contract, according to WTSP.
The federal lawsuit alleges Centerplate “surreptitiously cut corners, underreported gross receipts, concealed performance issues, underpaid the Rays, and underperformed under the Concession Agreement to the detriment of the Rays and their fans.”
The suit comes four months after Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field finished dead last in Sports Illustrated’s stadium food safety rankings. In 2017, the Trop was cited for a total of 241 food safety violations, including 105 critical violations, by far the worst of the 28 ballparks analyzed. Violations included black mold in an ice bin and live insects present in food areas.
Two weeks after the SI article was published, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Centerplate’s contract would not be renewed when it expires on Dec. 31.
The suit also alleges that one of the stadium vendors was a registered sex offender and that a person was hit in the head by a falling sign. A 2014 incident in which the CEO of Centerplate resigned after being caught on camera kicking a dog also generated negative publicity, the suit says.
Centerplate had been the Rays’ concession provider since the team entered the league in 1998, and they provided this statement to SI:
"Having been the Rays’ hospitality partner for 20 years, we are both stunned and disappointed by these allegations. After failing to come to financial terms on a new deal this season, we expected an orderly and amicable transition based on a tenure characterized by good relations and mutual respect. There is no basis for this last-minute action and we intend to vigorously defend our reputation in court."