Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Jays’ Aramark Contract Apparently Isn’t Done Yet (But Maybe That’s OK)

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!

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:

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.)

  • The Humungus

    Denver has a lot of local fare as well, but also the right field upper deck bleachers have a couple restaurants and bars that I wish I could have gotten up to while there. Next time I won’t miss.

    Also, you can buy rocky mountain oysters at the park. Served with cocktail sauce. That’s right. Deep fried balls with cock sauce. (no, you’re 12)

    • The Humungus

      I don’t get all the complaints about the beer selection. Do you really need a million options on a hot day? Just drink an Organic or West Coast IPA. Or anything from Brickworks they have there.

      I know it’s all AB InBev, but it’s get a hell of a lot more flavour than Bud.

      • dolsh

        Beer snobs (like myself) will likely disagree. It’s better than the Labatt’s years, and endless supplies of Bud, but really not as good as the local Craft beer makers can provide. Fun thought: what if the dome turned itself into a giant craft brewery? …give InBev something constructive to do!

        • The Humungus

          You assume I’m not a beer snob. But at a sporting event, I’ll crush Miller Lite’s like it’s the blood of life.

          I get my craft fix in before/after the game at the Loose Moose. Then I can slam Organics on the Flight Deck and not care that the selection isn’t huge.

  • RickyRo24

    I can say that the Aramark dude that works with the Jays at Rogers Centre is heavily involved with the stadium redesign plans and it’s a cooperative arrangement to best meet fan needs. I can’t say if local options will ever be available in the stadium, but it’s not like Aramark is going to be a huge impediment I don’t think – they want fans to be happy just as much as Shapiro does.

    Also, one thing we overlook a lot is that the SkyDome was originally the world’s biggest McDonald’s – every single concession stand was a McDonald’s outlet and they pulled McDonald’s employees from all over Ontario to work game days. So, the deep fryers and infrastructure to support those McDonald’s outlets is still what Aramark is working with, specifically on the upper levels and 500s. So a big part of the reason that you only get the good options in the 100s is because those upper levels are only built to deep fry fries and keep burgers warm. On top of that, the going rate at the time was to have a concession and bathroom (and entrances) as spread out as possible around the stadium. So whereas most other stadiums might have 3 or 4 entrances and larger more centralized food options and washrooms, Rogers Centre went with a bunch of small entrances, small concessions, and smaller washrooms.

    When you combine all this together, you get a big, inefficient, decentralized cement stadium that was made to serve a few fast food options. So the renovations to retrofit the entire thing and make it more modern is more than just changing the menu, it’s fundamentally rethinking the layout and infrastructure of a massive cement cavern so that fans can eat and drink what they want, where they want, and how they want. It’s a huge undertaking, best rest assured it’s a top priority and people are working together to make sure the right things happen.

    • dolsh

      Gawd I hope so. Toronto has an opportunity to really display its Toronto-ness with the food and drink in the dome. It’s a tragedy that visitors to Toronto to see a ballgame from across Canada (and the US) will be left with an impression that boiled hotdogs and nachos are acceptable food items.

  • fred2

    I seem to be in the minority here, but holy fuck do I not give a shit about stadium food. Stadium beer … sort of, especially if it were cheaper. Food…If I want to eat good food, I go to a restaurant.

    For all Shapiro goes on about stadium experience (and yes, yes, let’s make it as good as we can), a losing team, or even a winning team in a shitty city, is not going to fill the stands even with the best food in the world. Cleveland shows that.

    I’m all for Rogers Centre being filled with independent food vendors selling their own stuff, and microbrewed beer flowing freely from the taps, and while we’re at it in terms of dream stadium fare, why not just put a branch of the LCBO in there selling only pot edibles. But in terms of butts on seats, I still don’t think it makes more than about a 1% effect either way on a person’s decision to attend a game.

    On the other hand, if they sold pot edibles …

    • The Humungus

      Apparently they won’t be selling edibles in Ontario. Just weed. You’ll have to make your own edibles.

      This can’t last long, but shit, this is a bummer.