An intrepid reader emailed me this morning after having done a bit of journalism (that apparently I couldn’t be arsed to do *COUGH*), letting me know that they had contacted the folks at Aramark, regarding their contract with the Jays. And, assuming that what they’re telling me is true (and why wouldn’t it be? what a weird thing to fabricate if it wasn’t!), the not-well-liked (perhaps even reviled) company in charge of concessions at the Rogers Centre renegotiated their contract with the club at some point last year, and will continue to provide your ballpark food experience until at least 2021.
Rather than give you the play by play of what happened when I mentioned this on Twitter, let’s just have a look at these tweets!
Just got an email from someone who contacted Aramark, re: Jays, saying that apparently an extension until 2021 was negotiated last year. BOO
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) September 13, 2017
Keep in mind 1) the InBev deal is what keeps the beer selection shitty, not Aramark, and 2) there are Aramark parks with well liked food!— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) September 13, 2017
Which is to say... maybe it can get better? And if it doesn't, there is always just bringing in your own food. https://t.co/ZBacjlUkXX— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) September 13, 2017
Per this release Aramark is in MLB in 2017: Boston, Denver, Philly, Pittsburgh, KC, Houston, NY (NL), and here. https://t.co/W50bAnMoXG— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) September 13, 2017
The Mets are incredible and have local options like shake Shack and fuku with stands— Eric Hartman (@EricHartman) September 13, 2017
I thought Pittsburgh was better than Philly and Mets, but all better than Jays. It felt like there was some more "local" options as well.— Greg Huff (@ghuff55) September 13, 2017
Pit was outstanding. They had a variety of vendors and legendary places in house. I recall an amazing Capicollo sandwich. Over 100 choices.— VernorsSpokesman (@AdrianCrisostim) September 13, 2017
Shake Shacks in a few local taco joint in Houston local Pittsburgh fastfood, local philly cheesteak and donut places all within those parks— Casey J (@CC_Jenkins) September 13, 2017
I thiiiink Aramark had a deal under Shapiro in CLE as well. They brought in about 10 or so local restaurants to feature food. Not all bad?— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) September 13, 2017
The contract terms can be wildly different, especially in regards to access by other vendors or mandates for diverse offerings.— Dex Farkin (@dexfarkin) September 13, 2017
Contracts will likely vary in terms of service requirements, suppliers, and vendor access. Can create huge disparities location to location.— Dex Farkin (@dexfarkin) September 13, 2017
So, what have we learned here? First of all, Aramark, despite being shitty as both a soul-sucking corporate entity and as the current provider of concessions at the Rogers Centre, is not necessarily a barrier to having great meal options available at the ballpark. They’re not usually the ones providing those options, but that’s well enough. As long as the people running the building have built it into their contract with the company to have outside options — something Mark Shapiro’s former team certainly did in Cleveland (and look at how that city is turning out in droves to see their awesome, unstoppable team right now! *COUGH*) — things can be a whole hell of a lot better.
Which is to say:
Happy to overpay for a Primanti's sandwich or Shake Shack, but paying $14 for a burrito being the most "exotic" thing going is just pitiful.— Greg Huff (@ghuff55) September 13, 2017
Hooooooly shit yes. Want to charge me a bit more than the in-store prices for California Sandwiches? Caplansky’s? Bahn Mi Boys? Or whatever other example of essential Toronto fare you want to use here? Please, please, please, take all of my fucking money.
Does the extended Aramark contract — which I assume will go into effect next year, given that the 10 year contract announced in 2008 will expire after this season — allow for such things? One reader suggests that the current one probably did, the Jays just didn’t make much use of it! Whether that’s true or whether a needed language change will have shown up in the new one, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Or maybe just ask the Jays about it. (LET ME KNOW WHAT THEY SAY IF YOU DO!).
But if you want some comfort about it right now, I’ll say this: judging by pretty much everything Mark Shapiro has ever said about this stuff, what he did in Cleveland, and this interesting nugget of a post I wrote two years ago on this very subject, I think it’s going to be OK. (Still, though, fingers crossed.)