Restaurant News

Fenway’s Concessions Stands Are Among Baseball’s Cleanest

The Boston ballpark lands second in a new food safety ranking compiled by Sports Illustrated.
Fenway Park

Photo by Jacqueline Cain

You’re probably not thinking about your health when you order a tray of Fenway franks, a couple of Yankee Lobster rolls, and your two-at-a-time ration of $9-ish beers at the ballpark. So we bet you’re not thinking about the cleanliness of the concession stand that served it to you, either. But if that thought crosses your mind next time you’re at Fenway Park, rest assured that Boston’s ballpark is among the country’s cleanest.

Sports Illustrated compiled the most recent public inspection records from 28 North American cities to rank their ballparks in terms of food safety. Fenway lands at No. 2, with only (the appropriately named) Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, boasting a cleaner bill of health.

The City of Boston reported 30 total violations at Fenway, from 57 food service entities (concession stands, kitchens, and restaurants) inspected around the park. Throughout the rest of the league, the median number is 58 violations.

Sports Illustrated defines violations as practices against a municipality’s food code, like broken equipment or evidence of rodents. Fenway’s “notable citations” from the data collected this spring included a dirty ice machine, and a broken dishwasher. It should be noted that SI checked in on Fenway before the season got underway, meaning no one was regularly serving food there. But the editors confirmed with 2016 data that the ballpark had even fewer violations last year.

While Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, had only 28 total violations, it lands at No. 3 because of nine critical violations. The ranked list is based on a metric Sports Illustrated created to emphasize these “critical” violations, or infractions that are linked to the spread of foodborne illnesses.

If you’ve been to Tampa Bay’s sweltering, gloomy dome, you shouldn’t be shocked to learn that Tropicana Field landed on the bottom of SI’s cleanliness ranking. Two areas—the Trop’s catering kitchen, and a concession stand outside Section 303—clocked in with more than 20 violations each, and the stadium has a total of 105 critical violations.

The median number of critical violations across the board? Just 24. Fenway had two.

These numbers are a look at a stadium’s food safety conditions during a single inspection, the most recent one. Across the country, health inspectors and representatives advised SI fans not to panic, but to note that patterns over a period of time, or at multiple food service locations throughout the ballpark, likely stem from something like a lack of training.

While one could argue Fenway and Strega’s meatball cone is a violation of something, Fenway Park and its food service company, Aramark, are doing a great job in terms of food safety. One of country’s best tourist attractions rakes in $60 million in concessions every year—we’re glad to see our money is being well-spent.

Check out Sports Illustrated’s full, ranked list and methodology here—and what the magazine thinks should be done with it here.


Jacqueline Cain Associate Food Editor at Boston Magazine jcain@bostonmagazine.com