ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays have filed a federal lawsuit against its former concessionaire, Centerplate, for a breach of contract, alleging they “surreptitiously cut corners, underreported gross receipts, concealed performance issues, underpaid the Rays, and underperformed under the Concession Agreement to the detriment of the Rays and their fans.”
The Rays did not renew their contract with Centerplate, owned by Volume Services Inc., after the 2017 season. In August, a Sports Illustrated article ranked Tropicana Field as the major league’s worst when it came to concession health inspections.
The lawsuit, filed Friday, alleges “Centerplate consistently failed to perform and neglected its obligations despite the Rays’ repeated calls for improvement” and failed to “deliver the requisite quality of service and standard of performance required…to properly operate and maintain the concessions equipment and facilities…to keep or provide accurate records to the Rays regarding revenues and commissions owed… to pay the Rays its agreed-upon share of the revenues from concessions (and) to indemnify the Rays for Centerplate’s negligence.
“As a result of Centerplate’s frequent contractual violations, its pattern of misconduct, and overall mishandling of the Stadium’s concessions, the Rays have suffered significant harm. Centerplate’s inappropriate actions and glaring failures sullied the Rays’ brand and reputation, shorted the Rays on considerable revenue and other sums due and owing, caused significant lost profits, and inflicted extensive out-of-pocket costs.”
The lawsuit also alleges:
- Despite complaints from the Rays following critical 2010 ESPN and 2013 ABC News stories on the stadium's concessions, Centerplate failed to remedy problems and demonstrated a "pattern of inadequate senior level oversight and accountability."
- Disputes over revenue include "Centerplate further admitted owing over $200,000 for
credits that were 'incorrectly recorded' from 2007 to 2009."
- "Not only did Centerplate cause significant damage to the Rays’ brand and reputation through its operation and management of the concessions and resulting media attention, Centerplate’s chief executive created additional backlash and brought further harm to the Rays through his personal misconduct" when a video surfaced of the man, Des Hague, kicking a dog in a Vancouver elevator.
- Centerplate has refused to pay legal bills related to a concession sign falling on a fan's head.
- "In early 2017, the Rays learned that Centerplate had incorrectly advised employees
of zoning laws and attempted to serve alcohol at the Stadium before the time allowed by local law."
- "In cleaning up Centerplate’s latest mess, the Rays have found countless new cleaning and maintenance issues, damaged equipment, and concealed neglect requiring extensive repairs, replacement, sterilization, and other out-of-pocket expenses," including to stadium beer lines.
10News reached out to the Rays and Centerplate for comment.
Centerplate responded to the lawsuit with the following statement: “Having been the Rays’ hospitality partner for 20 years, we are both stunned and disappointed by these allegations. After failing to come to financial terms on a new deal this season, we expected an orderly and amicable transition based on a tenure characterized by good relations and mutual respect. There is no basis for this last-minute action and we intend to vigorously defend our reputation in court.”
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