COLORADO

Gluten-Free Colorado: Coors Field Opens Gfree Concession Stand

6 Comments 10 August 2009

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Isn't it cool how the stand has "Gluten-Free" all over it?!

Here's the press release I received about this exciting news:

Aramark's gluten-free food stand at Coors Field in Denver sells wheatless, barley-free food to people who suffer from Celiac disease.

Coors Field is now home to the first dedicated gluten-free concession stand in Major League Baseball, located behind section 147 on the left field concourse. Aramark, the food and beverage provider at Coors Field in Denver, opened the stand in response to increasing requests for gluten-free options for fans with Celiac disease. An autoimmune disorder, people with Celiac disease cannot consume a certain gluten protein found in wheat, barley, rye and related ingredients. One out of 133 people is affected by Celiac disease, and 80 percent of the people who have it have not been properly diagnosed.

Developing a menu of gluten-free items and finding a bakery that could make them taste comparable to traditional ballpark fare were challenges. “We went for the top three sellers in baseball, which are hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken sandwiches,” said Aramark Regional Executive Chef Rik Kiessling. Aramark researched and taste-tested bakeries. “I’d have to say for the most part [gluten-free foods] aren’t very impressive,” said Kiessling, whose experience with gluten-free foods comes from having Celiac disease. However, Aramark eventually found Deby’s Bakery, a local Denver store that baked daily, and won the taste test hands-down.

In addition to hot dogs ($7), hamburgers ($9) and chicken sandwiches ($8.50), the stand also sells Boulder Canyon chips ($2), Deby's Gluten Free Bakery cookies ($3) and brownies ($3), and soda, water and gluten-free Redbridge beer ($6.25). The beer is made by Anheuser-Busch and contains sorghum.

Not only do gluten-free foods often differ in taste, but they are also more expensive. “There is a little bit more cost involved,” said Kiessling, “The gluten-free community understands that. They’ve been exposed to that for as long as they’ve known they had the disease.” A regular Rockie Dog in the park is $6, hamburgers are $6.75, grilled chicken is $5.75, a cookie is $1.50 and beer is the same price as the gluten-free Redbridge at $6.25.

Aramark did a soft roll out of the gluten-free cart for three games. During that time, the stand sold about half a dozen items per game. After a media blitz, the stand began selling over 100 items per game. "We have a lot of folks who haven't been to a game in years that are coming back because of it,” explained Kiessling. In order to gain feedback, Aramark is currently taking surveys, in hopes that next year the stand will have more offerings.

In addition to Coors Field, Aramark also catered a Celiac Awareness Night, now in its second year, hosted by the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The game sold out, and roughly 700 people bought tickets for a special section dedicated to Celiac awareness, including fans from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and The Greater Philadelphia Area Celiac Support Group. Tickets sold for this section were up 300 from last year's event.

While Citizens Bank Park offers some gluten-free items all season at Bull's BBQ, they had a dedicated gluten-free concessions area for that night. The special gluten-free items were not priced differently than general concessions. Some offerings included hot dogs ($3.75), hamburgers ($7), chicken fingers with dipping sauce ($8.25), gluten-free kids meals ($4), cookies ($4), chips ($2.50) and rice pudding ($2.50).

"We try to have something for everyone at the ballpark regardless of diet — it's such an important part of the ballpark experience," said David Lippman, director of concessions, Aramark at Citizens Bank Park. Lippman added that the new gluten-free chicken fingers were hugely popular at this year's event, and hot dogs are always popular.

The various efforts to offer gluten-free options for fans with Celiac disease are due to phone calls and emails through guest services at each of the venues. "I've been in contact with the NFCA folks since last year and they've been letting me know of the customer feedback, both positive and constructive," said Lippman. "As requests continue to increase, we’ll continue to evaluate how to better market and make gluten-free items available to accommodate more requests", Kiessling said. — Linda Domingo

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Your Comments

6 Comments so far

  1. 1
     

    that’s so exciting!

  2. 2
     
    Janet says:

    I met Leigh, the lady behind the research and development of the gluten free stands at Coors Field while I was at a game this summer! Let me just say that this is not only quite impressive that she’s just taken on this endeavor this year and it’s already happened, but the fact that this can and will set a precedence for all baseball parks and other sporting arenas makes me smile! Too bad I moved to Seattle area!!! Come on Mariners with gluten free foods!!!!!!!!

  3. 3
     

    This is amazing- the availability of GF foods is growing exponentially! I remember how I could barely find anything when I was first diagnosed. But, I wanted to share that I went to Citi Field today to see the Mets and at the big food court in center field, they serve Redbridge!! And, it was the same price as the other specialty beers ($7.50). Considering I haven’t had a beer at a ballpark in 6 years, I was ecstatic!!!!

  4. 4
     

    My husband, an ARAMARK employee, says that the food is so good that people who don’t want to stand in line at the regualr stands are happy to enjoy the fare from the GF one.

  5. 5
     
    Deborah Heitman says:

    I can’t wait to try this! I’ll be there tonight at Coors Field and I get to have a hamburger and a GF-Beer! WOW!

  6. 6
     
    Cassie says:

    While I TOTALLY 100% appreciate Coors Field having food for me, I tried it tonight and was thoroughly disappointed. They should source their bread from Udi’s or Rudi’s bakeries (which are right down the road) and make products that both look and taste like real bread! Which is FAR more than I can say for whatever I paid $9 for this evening. I’m curious how they did their ‘taste tests’ as there are far better products out there. Sorry for the rant, I was so excited about the gf stand! Maybe I got my hopes up too high :(


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Kelly Courson

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Thanks for stopping by! I'm Kelly Courson and this is where I've shared my gluten-free finds since 2003. The world has been my gluten-free oyster for 14 years now and I love sharing what I've learned in order to help others adapt to a gluten-free diet. Have a look around and feel free to leave a comment. Connecting with people like you is what has kept me going this long! Seriously.
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