Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Shock of Shocks: Rogers Centre Gets Abysmal Marks From Fans For Food, Drinks, Beer, and More

I had never heard of a company called Review Trackers until and intrepid reader (crotch grab in the direction of @patrickjbryden) brought to my attention the fact that the online review tracking company had just published a pretty deep — and, they say, sophisticated — look at 130,000 big league ballpark reviews written by real fans and parsed entirely by snappy algorithms in order to spit out rankings by various factors.

Here’s the full report.

I’m not sure what entirely to make of it or their methodology, to be honest. But, hoo boy, this sure passes the smell test:

Uh… doesn’t it?

I mean, I’m not going to sit here and defend the food and drink selection at the Rogers Centre — or the beer selection, which this clearly has a lot to do with (the stadium’s beer situation also ranks last in MLB) — but that’s a pretty grim ranking right there! And… like… most stadiums get quite positive comments for their food and drink? Really? I know there are some pretty great eats out there around the majors, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wonder if maybe we’re just especially good at complaining about this. (Especially those of us who haven’t yet realized that you can bring just about any food that you damn well please into the ballpark).

Maybe we’re good at complaining about other things, too! Like… family friendliness?

I know that Jays fans can be a bit surly, and aren’t necessarily well policed (or evenly policed), which maybe detracts from some folks’ experiences, but second last in this, too?

The Jays do try to be pretty family friendly — or so I thought. In fact, one of the conclusions given in the report sounds precisely like the club’s Junior Jays Saturdays promotion: “Investing in strong family-centric promotions — like dedicating one day a week to families — will resonate among fans with kids and leave them talking about the experience.”

Maybe someone with kids can explain this to me. Or maybe it’s just that, y’know, the building kinda sucks and is going to get dinged no matter what.

Or maybe these don’t quite pass the smell test?

I don’t know. Whatever! Bottom line is that the food and beer situation — selection, lineups, prices — fucking sucks at the Rogers Centre, especially as compared to the actual real stadiums out there — which by this point is pretty much all of them. (Hey, but at least the Jays’ contract with Aramark — a ten year deal signed at the beginning of 2008 — is about to expire! Assuming it hasn’t at some point been renewed.)

Wrigley, Fenway, and Dodger Stadium are all cathedrals. O.co is on its way out, Angel Stadium (built in 1966, but renovated extensively after the Rams left in the 90s) doesn’t really count, nor does the exquisitely renovated (or so they say) Kauffman Stadium. The next oldest park in the majors is the Rogers Centre. The Braves already have moved on from a stadium built after the Rogers Centre was opened, and the Rangers not going to be far behind them.

Mark Shapiro has got his work cut out for him. In more ways than one.

  • TommyJohn

    Yeah… This may be an extreme overreaction from fans. As someone who’s visited 10+ stadiums, I’d say the food/drink selection at Rogers is average. It certainly beat out the Cards, Yanks, Angels and White Sox IMO… I mean, Cards fans are stuck with fucking Busch products!!!!! As far as pricing and selection goes, I’d have to actually sit down and do a side by side comparison with Fenway and Wrigley too. Why has Toronto developed such a widespread group of whiney fans these days?

    • Deener32

      You didn’t like the food/booze at Yanks/White Sox? Two of the better ones I’ve found. My wife is a vegetarian (and generally a picky eater- There are literally two kiosks in the rogers center where she can get something. At Yankee stadium her and I were both thrilled with the options. Even more so at guaranteed rate field.

      The fan experience can of worms may be a slight exaggeration, but I’d say every field I’ve been to has had better concession options and has a better environment- I’ll never get over the experience at Wrigley this year. Fans engaged the entire game- Video’s on the board of the bullpen/bench dancing during walk up music/after a homerun. It was just a fun environment.

      After each win the entire stadium sang “hey Chicago” song- As a Jays fan I hated it, but it was amazing to see the entire stadium stand up and sing after the game as part of their post game ritual.

    • GrumblePup

      Is it that fans are whiny? (obviously yes, there are some. But that’s not different than any other fan base) Or is it just that it’s not hard for ownership to make things a little bit better?
      There are obviously limitations to what ownership can change about the actual stadium itself, but it wouldn’t be hard to offer more variety of food or beer on site and that alone would change the entire fan experience. It would take very little to make the stadium a little more inviting/fun to be in
      eg. an easily accessible “museum” somewhere on the main concourse (right now, as far as I know, most of the memorabilia in the stadium lines the halls to all the private boxes), a couple statues of players outside, like they have at other stadiums.
      These things wouldn’t make the stadium itself a better stadium, it wouldn’t change how stuffy it gets in there when the roof is closed, but it would make for a better experience.
      I think that’s the problem people have with everything. It’s not so much whiny as it is “guys, this is fucking so simple. Why can’t you see that?”

  • The Humungus

    So, I’m a bit of a stadium traveller, as I’m sure that at least a few of the other posters here are. It’s not even always about seeing the Jays, although that does weigh in to some of the more expensive trips.

    That said, in all honesty, the Rogers Centre really isn’t THAT much worse than any other stadium I’ve been to. For reference, here’s the list:

    AT&T Park
    Comerica Park
    Coors Field
    Fenway Park
    Great American Ballpark
    Kaufman Stadium (during reno, not pre or post)
    PNC Park
    Progressive Field
    Safeco Field

    The biggest downside of the Rogers Centre is the fact that it’s a multi-purpose stadium rather than baseball specific. That detracts from the atmosphere a bit.

    Food and beer wise, quality is equal, selection could be better.

    As far as fan experience goes, aside from the fact that it’s not really a baseball stadium and limited selections, it’s not that much worse than watching a game elsewhere.

    Also, Fenway is a fucking dump that reeks of piss. Fact. Fuck that place.

    Next up for me is a trip to Texas to see Globe Life and Minute Maid next year. I have a few friends who have been to Globe Life who all say it’s a great place to watch a ballgame, so I have to get there before they close it. Can’t wait for the schedule release, which should be happening any day now.

    • J. Paquin

      I’ve been to Globe Life, it’s a good one. Similar to Progressive a bit. Food options are awesome, in the center field section there is very expensive fancy ballpark food. I saw a few pretzels the size of an extra large pizza as well. Beer options not the greatest, but meh. It’s american beer anyways…

  • wb

    My daughter was born in 2008, and since then my “family” stadium experience is rather limited. But, we went to Seattle a couple of years ago to see the Jays and it certainly blew Rogers Centre out of the water in terms of family experience. We arrived early, and one stadium employee gave my daughter a pack of baseball cards, totally making her day. At least three employees reminded us to be sure to stop by the customer relations booth to pick up a personalized certificate for my daughter, which they give out free to children on their first visit to the stadium. In the stadium, moreover, there were plenty of family-friendly activities in the concourses, and while Rogers Centre as some of these, they are tucked out of the way and feel more like an afterthought. Jr. Jays Saturday is great, and Rogers Centre should get better marks for that alone, but the average, day-to-day family experience could be much better.

    • Kristen Sprague

      I have to give props to Jr Jays Saturdays. There’s always freebies for the kids. Look at how many kids stay and line up to run the bases after the game. Food selection sucks but hey you can bring food in.

  • TiminElkGrove

    I’ve been to about half the stadiums as well and have been to about 80 games at Rogers Centre. Here’s what I don’t like about Rogers:

    – No grass. There is nothing like getting to the side of the field and smelling fresh sod. The game doesn’t play well on Toronto’s turf, despite the dirt.
    – When the dome is closed, the atmosphere stinks. Because there is no grass, it all turns into an artificial concrete mess and the fan becomes detached from the game.
    – The 500 sections are a bit too far from the game itself making you feel detached. Nothing you can do about that without a new stadium.
    – The 500 sections are not kid-friendly as there is too much rowdiness, people not paying attention, and people not really even knowing about the game. People in the 500 section need to watch their language and behavior when there are kids around. You don’t get that anywhere else because the price differential between those seats and decent seats is way too high. If you gradually increase the prices in the 200s and 100s to something more tolerable you would see people moving around more.
    – more variety in the in-game experience (chants, between innings) would be good.
    What I like about Rogers Center:
    – Transit friendly
    – Weather friendly (a closed dome on a rainy day means that you are always playing)
    – Food is actually good if you look around. The 500 level is not great, but if you go down to the 100 level there are plenty of interesting options that are quite good and prices are on par with other stadiums. I attribute this to laziness and the fact that people don’t realize that each station on the 500 level has a bit of uniqueness to it with the items they can order.
    – Beer is expensive, but it is not the most expensive in MLB (top 10). And the selection is extremely good compared to other ballparks. I think people just like to complain.
    – A decent video and sound system viewable/hearable from most places in the stadium.

    • Barry

      This is an excellent rundown and consistent with my experience — I’d only disagree on one item, and that is the last one; I’ve found that the sound system isn’t terribly good higher up in the 500 level. Agree with everything else, though.

      In fact, I think the “transit friendly” item is massive. The location is so damn good that I would prefer to stick with the RC, warts and all, than a new ballpark in a less ideal location.

  • Jayme

    When the Dome is closed it feels like a shopping mall. It would be nice to have a much larger selection of draft beers, yes including local/”micro”/however you want to label them. $8 cans suck.

    Those are basically my only complaints. I’m not sure why the Dome gets shit on so much…it’s a much better fan experience than an NHL game.

  • fred2

    Part of me thinks that if you’re going to a baseball game and worrying about the food, you’re a bit of an ass. I’m not fan of soccer, but at most UK football games I think your choices are still pretty much a ‘mystery meat pie’ or piss off. And you can buy beer, but you can’t take it to your seat. But the ‘fan experience’? I think most people would think it’s pretty unparalleled.

    As for children hearing ‘rowdy language’. This is baseball isn’t it, not kindergarten? There are family/booze-free zones if little Billy is too delicate to hear the F-bomb. Jesus. Again … Soccer is hardly without it’s problems, but at pretty much any European sports event shouting obscenities at the referee is cherished tradition passed from father to young son on the terraces. Baseball should be accessible to young, old, male, female, LGBTQ, straight, but it doesn’t need to be some ersatz ‘family’ experience to be valid.

  • fred2

    You’ve got to ask the question. How much torture can the citizens of Tampa Bay take before they would give a stinker of a review for their ballpark? The overall rating for all criteria is higher than Nationals Park, Marlins Park, Wrigley, Yankee Stadium … and a 4 others. Are those Florida retirees stoned?

    And brand new “White Flight Stadium” gets ranked lower than the dome and only higher than O.co. Lolololol. Couldn’t happen to a nicer franchise.

    • The Humungus

      You have to remember, the majority of Rays fans are computer illiterate, because computers took up about 600sq ft when they were still in school. So, the only reviews that they found were team employees up-voting the franchise on Yelp.