Levy signs agreement to take over food service duties at Tropicana Field next year
Levy will take over food service next season at Tropicana Field, said Rick Nafe, the Tampa Bay Rays’ vice president of operations and facilities.
The Chicago-based company replaces Centerplate, which has run the stadium’s general concessions and premium dining since the Rays’ first season in 1998. Centerplate’s agreement expires Dec. 31, and Levy has posted a job on its website to fill the role of Tropicana Field’s executive chef.
Nafe confirmed that the decision to sign a new vendor was made before a Sports Illustrated story ran in early August ranking Tropicana Field as the worst MLB park in terms of food safety. The Rays had discussions with most big league food providers before selecting Levy in mid-July, sources familiar with the negotiations said.
“The [SI report] may have been the rotten cherry on top,” Nafe said.
Bill Walsh, the Rays’ vice president of strategy and development, was principally involved in the Levy deal, but he was unavailable for comment. In an email last week, Walsh said the Rays were short-staffed and trying to get the stadium ready for baseball again after Hurricane Irma struck Florida.
Sources said Levy will be paid a management fee to run food at the stadium, which also plays host to college football’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
The Rays are Levy’s eighth MLB account. The concessionaire also has deals with the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, White Sox, Marlins, Nationals, Pirates and Cubs.