The State of Food and Beverage at Sun Life Stadium (Leaves Lots of Room for Improvement)

Let's talk about beer and grub at Humid Life Stadium (where the Miami Dolphins play) for a sec.

In recent years, the trend in American sports stadiums has been a shift away from the "foodservice" grade staples of my youth, such as stale pretzels and dirty water hot dogs whose only function is as sponges to soak up massive amounts of booze. Drunken sports fans, we have come to understand, have a more refined palate than we ever could have dreamed, and more and more venues are serving up local and regional specialties accompanied by good beers to wash it all down.

Rumor has it the new Marlins stadium has embraced the trend, serving such South Florida-inspired grub as ceviche, conch fritters, and Cuban sandwiches from local institutions. Stadiums should have done this a long time ago. Mass produced, school cafeteria-style food service is a thing of the past. (Although, "fish stick day" was, and still is, a personal fave.)

Why not outsource food service to local restaurants and suppliers? They know the market, and hiring them on will stimulate the local economy big time. For the record, I think the Marlins stadium deal stinks, and it's bad for baseball, but if they had only committed to serving Aramark chicken fingers at the new park, well, that would have been the final straw in my book. Say what you will about this Loria fellow. At least we will be eating good and drinking good beer at Marlins games from here on out.

Which makes me wonder what is going on over at Sweat Life Stadium. If there was anything locally-sourced being consumed, it was most likely being prepared in the parking lot before the game. I sure didn't notice it inside. However, there is a sleek impostor hiding amongst the generic beer displays and crap mini pizza vendors.

Everglades BBQ Co. looks like the real deal at first glance, a big tent with smokers welcoming you in as you enter the stadium confines. But there is just something inherently "corporate" about the toothy gator logo slangin' southern cue'. Sure enough, after the game I did some research and found that Everglades BBQ is, in fact, a division of Boston Culinary Group, a mega conglomerate hospitality services company definitely not based in South Florida. The next time you go to a Cleveland Browns game, you will be feasting on the same Everglades cue', although it will be cleverly renamed "Lake Erie BBQ Co." or something to that effect (I should add, that I did sample the goods at Everglades BBQ, and it wasn't half bad. I ordered the pulled pork nachos, a heaping portion well priced at $9, smothered with velveeta and Sweet Baby Ray's sauce.)

Although the food was decent, although far removed from the best BBQ I have consumed, I couldn't help but wonder if a local joint could do a better job. Although if the stadium does hire a local company, I hope they keep the BBQ kid. The following is a transcript from the exchange between me and the BBQ kid:

Him: "you want an extra scoop (of pork)?"

Me: "yeah!" Him: "one dollar." Me: "I'm good."

Him: "it's like a tip."


Me: "Ok"


Me:"I want an extra scoop."

He scoops, takes my dollar, and thanks me kindly.

So come on, Dol-Fans! You deserve better. I'll bet if the Georgia Pig BBQ in Lauderdale (or any other BBQ joint) was offered the Stank Life Stadium gig they would certainly accept. They would have to expand operations. (Good). They would have to hire lots more local workers. (Good). Best of all, they will serve a quality product to locals and out of town visitors alike, that we would be proud to share, even if the home team is not very good.

Let's put some effort into it and showcase our strengths! Fresh Florida seafood, Cuban and Caribbean specialties, a really good local chain or two like BurgerFi or Duffy's serving killer burgers. Get the local food trucks involved! Holy Mackerel, Due South, and Tequesta brews on tap! We can do this! Who's with me?! No more frozen pizza and Bud Light! Let's change the game!

Aaron Merullo runs the PS561 food truck.

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Aaron Merullo