About the project

ESPN's Outside the Lines reviewed and collected more than 16,000 food-safety inspection reports from health departments that monitor the 111 professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey facilities across North America. The review of routine inspection reports from 2016 and 2017 found that at about 28 percent of the venues, half or more of the food service outlets incurred a high-level violation -- one that poses a potential threat for foodborne illness. Outside the Lines also calculated the average number of high-level violations per inspection at each venue, and compared that to the average for restaurants and other food outlets in the surrounding area, for the 82 venues for which we had community data provided by Hazel Analytics. Find your favorite stadium to determine how many high-level violations were found, how the stadium's inspection results compare to other eateries in the surrounding community, and notable samples of our findings. Read the full story.

Total Routine Inspections

North American venues

Had as good or better
rates than community

Had worse rates than community

Had high-level violations at half
or more of outlets inspected

Total Venues by Violation Rate

Three Best/Worst

Inspections at some stadium venues turned up a higher percentage of trouble spots than at others. Here are the three venues that had the highest and lowest percentages of outlets where inspectors found at least one or more high-level violations.

Three highest violation rates
Three lowest violation rates

* Venue now closed

Venues without enough vendor data

Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

No inspections were completed in 2016 and just six in 2017.

Toyota Center, Houston

Instead of issuing an inspection report for each food service location, the health department writes up one inspection report for the entire facility in a way that they could not be broken out.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta

The new stadium, which opened in August 2017, had 122 initial inspections done before the venue opened. There were no routine inspections until 2018.

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec

The health department provided only seven reports, of which five were routine inspections and two were in response to a complaint, for 2016 and 2017.

Types of Violations

  • Temperature

  • Employee-related issue

  • Pests/bugs

  • Poor condition of food

  • Equipment failure
    or problem

  • Other

Local health departments typically use a version of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Code, or comparable rules in Canada, to define food-safety violations; however, classifications of the severity of violations can vary among jurisdictions. For example, sometimes the same violation can be high level in one spot but not in another due to how pervasive it is -- a dead roach under a sink could be considered a low-level violation while live cockroaches crawling around popcorn can be a high-level violation. And some jurisdictions might simply designate certain violations as posing more, or less, of a risk to public health.

Stadium Rankings
High-Level %

* Venue now closed

Research by Sandra Fish

Comparison data by Hazel Analytics

Illustrations by Todd Detwiler

Sunrise, Fla. Glendale, Ariz. Denver Denver Seattle Seattle Green Bay, Wis. Milwaukee Milwaukee Memphis, Tenn. Nashville, Tenn. Nashville, Tenn. Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Portland, Ore. Cleveland Cleveland Cleveland Toronto Toronto Ottawa, Ontario Montreal, Quebec Cincinnati Cincinnati Philadelphia Philadelphia Philadelphia Oklahoma City Houston Houston San Antonio Salt Lake City Denver Columbus, Ohio New York Bronx, N.Y. Queens, N.Y. Brooklyn, N.Y. Buffalo, N.Y. Orchard Park, N.Y. Paradise, Nev. Raleigh, N.C. Kansas City, Mo. Kansas City, Mo. St. Louis St. Louis Minneapolis Minneapolis Minneapolis St. Paul, Minn. Boston Boston Foxborough, Mass. East Rutherford, N.J. Newark, N.J. Chicago Chicago Chicago Chicago Oakland, Calif. Oakland, Calif. San Jose, Calif. Sacramento, Calif. San Francisco Santa Clara, Calif. Vancouver, British Columbia Winnipeg, Manitoba Calgary, Alberta Edmonton, Alberta Phoenix Phoenix San Diego Dallas Arlington, Tex. Arlington, Tex. Charlotte, N.C. Charlotte, N.C. Baltimore Baltimore New Orleans New Orleans Tampa, Fla. Tampa, Fla. Miami Miami Miami Gardens, Fla. Indianapolis Indianapolis Washington, D.C. Atlanta Cumberland, Ga. Jacksonville, Fla. Detroit Detroit Detroit Detroit Anaheim, Calif. Anaheim, Calif. Carson, Calif. Los Angeles Los Angeles Los Angeles Glendale, Ariz. Auburn Hills, Mich. St. Petersburg, Fla. Landover, Md. Orlando, Fla.



High-level violations per Inspection

Outlets Inspected
total, with high-level violations

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