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Company contracted by SMG to handle food at Superdome, Smoothie King Center rates poorly in safety study

December 15, 2018

A study conducted by ESPN on food-safety violations at sports venues could have gone better for the New Orleans stadiums.

The study found that Centerplate, the company contracted by SMG to handle concessions at the Superdome and Smoothie King Center, committed several health-code violations.

The teams do not have control over any aspect of the food service or pricing at either site. SMG, the manager of the buildings, hires Centerplate to handle the food service.

A source close to the Saints and Pelicans was not pleased with what the study unveiled.

ESPN reviewed more than 16,000 food-safety inspection reports of professional sports venues from 2016 and 2017. The report also calculated the average number of high-level violations per inspection at each site.

The issues were more significant at the Smoothie King Center, which was found to be one of the greater offenders in the NBA. The venue had a violation rate of 52.3 percent, which was the ninth-highest mark in the league.

At one location in April 2016, inspectors found dirty surfaces, roaches, improperly labeled containers, among other things. During a follow-up inspection in 2017, a case of bananas was said to “consist in whole or in part of a filthy, putrid or decomposed substance.”

The Superdome was in the middle of the pack with a score of 38.24 percent. Some of the violations included finding dead bugs in a popcorn stand and freezers that needed cleaning.

The Saints and Pelicans have invested heavily in improving the game-day experience at both venues, and last year an NFL study found the Superdome one of the top sites for fan satisfaction.

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