Thursday, October 11, 2007

Words That Instill No Confidence

Nats 320, when not modeling the latest in Nats regalia, interviewed yet another person. This time it's the man at the top, our good buddy, the man with "The PLAN!", Stan Kasten.

Part one, dealing with stadium, parking and all that boring crap is up. Check it out.

But what caught my eye was his answer to some questions about the food policy at the new place and his less-than precise answers. As always, he's trying to be so deadly accurate with his answers that he couches and qualifies things so as to leave either 1) the question completely unanswered or 2) the exact opposite impression of what he actually means.

I know a lot of folks are going to ask this. Will food be allowed from outside the stadium to be brought into New Nationals Park? (SBF)

“I think the policy will be just what it was this past year--as I recall.”

In the past, you can bring in bottled water, your own sandwichs, meals, snacks, food stuffs—just not Large Coolers or things like that. (SBF)

“I think that’s what it was, and I don’t recall off the top of my head, but my recollection is the decision is just what it was last year. That may change between now and opening day, but I don’t remember exactly.”

Recall that the team (pre-Lerner) hid behind the DCSEC in banning outside food and water, pointing to some signs that were posted initially. After a little public outcry, they reversed course, so much so that the goober who sat next to me last year would eat homemade eggplant parmigiana during the game, stinking up the entire section.

When Kasten's Turner Field opened, outside food was also banned, to the displeasure of just about everyone (save Kasten's accountants).

So I'm a little skeptical given all the parsings, and hemmings and hawings and couching in his statement. He's the Team President, the guy who paints himself in charge of every single thing, and he doesn't "remember exactly." I know the guy's got a lot on his plate, especially with the seating assignments almost done, but this would also had to have been something he signed off on, and may have (almost definitely) been something that came up while negotiating with the new concessionaire. I'm chalking this one up to convenient amnesia; any good lawyer knows that the "I don't recall" or "my recollection is" are the ideal phrases you want your witness saying when there's an uncomfortable questions being raised. You just can't prove someone's thought process.

Worse, as I've said, the guy's an honest broker. Notice how he slips that one phrase in there? "That may change between now and opening day." Sure it might. And if it does, he's said nothing specific enough here to be accused of lying or misleading fans later.

Such is the beauty of StanSpeak!

In the meantime, start saving up your nickels. You're going to need them to feed the vendors.

37 Comments:

  • if they put a Five Guys in the stadium, everything will be fine

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/11/2007 3:29 PM  

  • I like Five Guys as much as the next person. Though not for $12 for a burger and fries.

    Not being allowed to bring in food and water will certainly lessen the ballpark experience for me. And reduce the frequency of my visits - the baseball budget only goes so far.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/11/2007 4:12 PM  

  • Agree with the second anonymous comment re: baseball budget. The appeal of baseball to me is that it is the one major sport that is a value. Being able to bring in a small amount of food and drink helps quite a bit.

    By Blogger Kyle, at 10/11/2007 4:42 PM  

  • "But what caught my eye was his answer to some questions about the food policy at the new place and his less-than precise answers."

    Gee, did it ever occur to you that Stan might not be quite the micro-manager you assume him to be? Maybe he delegated this decision and either it hasn't been made yet, or he forgot what was decided. Or maybe not. Who knows? But as both a commenter on Nats320 and you have pointed out, the wrong call on this was initially made in Atlanta and had to be reversed amid much negative publicity. Unless one thinks that Stan is actually looking to turn off fans (and I said 'one' there, rather than 'you', because I know what you think) why would he knowingly make the same mistake twice?

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 10/11/2007 5:02 PM  

  • Ignore me.

    By Anonymous The Troll, at 10/11/2007 5:25 PM  

  • hey chris - when's your private sit down with stan? i'm guessing (hoping) sometime around the 5th of never! oh well, it looks like you'll just have to keep the stan-speak translator plugged in!

    By Blogger Bill, at 10/11/2007 5:57 PM  

  • Hey, just because you were too clueless to find the one vegetarian stand that Aramark provided at RFK, don't go gettin' all nasty at me. Hint: Due to Aramark ineptitude the stand was located right underneath the movable stands down the third base line. It may be more visible now in the soccer configuration, but I can't guarantee that the pupusas they serve there will be vegetarian. But boy, that eggplant parm they sold there was da bomb! So good, you'd think it was homemade. I sure hope Centerplate brings it over to the new park.

    And hey, we all know who it really was stinking up the session, don't we, Chris? Hope maybe you'll be able to find time for an occasional shower before you come to Nationals Park next year. A new park demands a new standard of personal hygiene, y'know? Although it will probably still be okay if you don't want to shave, I guess.

    By Anonymous Eggplant Parmigiana Guy, at 10/11/2007 7:13 PM  

  • Sure, the Nats might be cheap, but if you haven't noticed, cheap is the new black so to speak in the baseball world.

    Playoff Payrolls:

    Indians 62m
    Rockies ~50m
    D'backs ~50m

    In sum, the Nats don't need that much cash to win. Just time to develop new players, unfortunately.

    By Blogger Michael, at 10/12/2007 12:20 AM  

  • I guess this is just another small piece of evidence to place on that pile of accumulating crap indicating the Lerners are cheap, eh?

    Yeesh...that's what concerned you out of that conversation? No comments on parking being "offered" to all season ticket holders and how much that might cost? The shuttle from RFK and how much they might charge? The discussion about finishing the Metro station?

    "Can I bring my own food in?"

    Please.

    By Blogger Jim H, at 10/12/2007 12:52 AM  

  • Way to read into things there, Jimbo. I didn't connect it with the Lerners being cheap.

    That stuck out to me because it affects me. I'm not parking, so I don't give a rat's ass about that whole issue. Much of the other stuff was stuff that's already been reported. This was new to me, so it stuck out, particularly because of Stan's evasiveness.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/12/2007 7:14 AM  

  • Unless Centerplate (?) is of a charitable nature, I would guess the contract the Nats signed with the concessionaire stipulates either that no food can be brought into the stadium or that the amount of food from outside that will pass muster will be small indeed.

    So what Stan thinks (or recalls) is irrelevant.

    By Anonymous JohnR (VA), at 10/12/2007 9:08 AM  

  • "So what Stan thinks (or recalls) is irrelevant."

    No it's not. it's the only thing saving us from having to endure CenterPlateSpeak posts on this blog. Trust me, you don't want to see that.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 10/12/2007 9:31 AM  

  • Anyone know what the policy on outside food is at the other Centerplace locations?

    By Anonymous Simon Oliver Lockwood, at 10/12/2007 9:57 AM  

  • As much as I'd love it if the Nats kept the same policy on outside food, I had just been assuming that that policy was an RFK-only policy and would change with the new stadium. My impression is that most ballparks prohibit outside food.

    At RFK, especially in 2005, that would have an untenable policy and probably resulted in fan starvation. I thought the policy of allowing outside food was a way of compensating fans for the fact that the food offerings were subpar.

    Anybody know what the policy is at Camden Yards?

    By Blogger Art L, at 10/12/2007 10:23 AM  

  • You can bring anything and everything you want to in Camden Yards... just no glass bottles, obviously!

    I don't know about centerplates other locations. I know that Yankee Stadium doesn't allow you to bring anything in, and they're a centerplate team.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/12/2007 10:26 AM  

  • The Yankees argue, in part, because of 'security' concerns.

    If the Nats go down that road -- and the words here make me think they will -- then I'd expect you'd hear a similar argument.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/12/2007 10:26 AM  

  • Chris...

    My apologies for assuming facts not in evidence.

    Note to self: Do not comment on blogs when significantly under the influence.

    By Blogger Jim H, at 10/12/2007 10:39 AM  

  • Trust me... drinking is the only thing that makes reading this sack of crap tolerable! ;)

    I'd recommend whiskey. lots of whiskey!

    (For the record, wanting to generate revenue does not make someone cheap; that makes them a good American!)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/12/2007 10:43 AM  

  • An Briosca Mor:

    Why do you visit this site if the content bugs you so much? Nobody's forcing you to read it.

    Just curious.

    By Anonymous Natzzzzzz, at 10/12/2007 10:51 AM  

  • "Why do you visit this site if the content bugs you so much? Nobody's forcing you to read it."

    Beats working. Why does the blogmaster here go to Nats games, listen to Stan Kasten, and read Nats320 if all that content bugs him so much? You know, if you have to ask questions like that, you just may not be cut out to live in the blogosphere, dude.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 10/12/2007 11:04 AM  

  • //Why does the blogmaster here go to Nats games, listen to Stan Kasten, and read Nats320 if all that content bugs him so much?//

    The difference here is that Mr. Needham is at least a thoughtful and entertaining blogger where as you...well, you're presence is just irritating.

    //if you have to ask questions like that, you just may not be cut out to live in the blogosphere, dude.//

    You're kidding, right?

    By Anonymous Natzzzzzz, at 10/12/2007 11:16 AM  

  • Unless one thinks that Stan is actually looking to turn off fans (and I said 'one' there, rather than 'you', because I know what you think) why would he knowingly make the same mistake twice?

    The trollish parenthetical aside, that's a decent point. But it could be flipped on its head and beg the question why, given that history, he would couch his response in three lawyerisms in succession.

    Part of the answer, I suspect, is that people trained as lawyers couch almost everything they say -- which, coincidentally, is why I used the phrase "I suspect."

    Kasten glosses his statements with amendable additions. It's smart to do so. But I see no fault in someone pointing out his tendency to do so.

    By Anonymous Basil, at 10/12/2007 11:17 AM  

  • *your

    By Anonymous Natzzzzzz, at 10/12/2007 11:17 AM  

  • "Part of the answer, I suspect, is that people trained as lawyers couch almost everything they say -- which, coincidentally, is why I used the phrase 'I suspect.'"

    It could very well be that neither Stan nor CenterPlate has the final call on the outside food issue. It very well could be in the DC government's hands. After all, one of the big pillars of the financial deal that allowed building of the stadium in the first place was that the city would receive tax revenue from food and concessions sales in the stadium. Obviously the revenue from such sales will be impacted if outside food is allowed in, but how much? Enough to cause a change in policy from what they allowed at RFK, where they surely didn't have quite the expected tax revenues?

    My guess is that the DC government hasn't even considered this issue yet. I'm sure it's not written into the contract one way or the other. Stan Kasten probably hasn't given it all that much thought, either. He's busy right now trying to sell tickets. Probably he's been assuming all along that they'd do whatever they did at RFK, since the policy they had there seemed to keep everybody happy. As I said earlier, why deliberately try to piss off your customers? But when pressed for an answer on this, I'm sure he realizes that at any given time the DC government could wake up and wonder why their revenues from concession taxes aren't what was projected. If the stadium sells out as projected, maybe revenues stay high and letting a little outside food in is no big deal. But if crowds are lower than expected, letting people in without forcing them to spend exorbitant amounts of money that can be taxed is something the DC government could question. This kind of thing could happen now, it could happen halfway through the season, or it could never happen at all. But if pressed for an answer on the subject, Stan has to be sure that whatever he says can cover all those eventualities, or otherwise his words could come back to haunt him. That's not being a lawyer, it's just being smart. The other thing he could have said, which would have been equally as smart, would have been "I don't know" or "No comment". Would you guys prefer that to what he did say?

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 10/12/2007 11:41 AM  

  • My girlfriend and I really missed the Hard Times Chili Nachos that were around in 06. Hopefully that will return.

    By Anonymous David H, at 10/12/2007 11:43 AM  

  • "The difference here is that Mr. Needham is at least a thoughtful and entertaining blogger where as you...well, you're presence is just irritating."

    You know, I was going to get all insulted by this, but then I thought for a moment about all the many contributions that you bring to the table, and said...nah!

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 10/12/2007 11:45 AM  

  • ABM,

    You make some fair points. I'm pretty certain policies such as these will be dictated by the Nationals (perhaps in conjunction with CenterPlate), but I certainly don't have any cite for that.

    Anyway, I think you're right to the extent that Stan probably didn't have prior knowledge of what he'd be asked, so I'm not sure how reasonable it would be to expect him to craft a succinct answer to that question.

    It is a very interesting interview, as most of SBF's are.

    As for this --

    The other thing he could have said, which would have been equally as smart, would have been "I don't know" or "No comment". Would you guys prefer that to what he did say?

    -- it's not about a preference.

    Stan tends to speak in cozy platitudes couched with caveats that may or may not be revealing. Insofar as I too am a lawyer, I think that's both lawyerly and smart.

    There's plenty of room for Stan's statements to be parsed. So that's what Chris does. Seeing as the fruit of Stan's statements is generally speaking not going to materialize until the future, it's impossible to say whether Chris' reasoning or suppositions are on-target or off-base.

    But it, as you said before, beats working. ;-)

    By Anonymous Basil, at 10/12/2007 11:58 AM  

  • Looked up CenterPlate's MLB stadiums and their outside food/drink policies:

    Kansas City:
    Food: YES
    Drink: Water Only (juice boxes ok)

    San Francisco:
    Food: YES
    Drink: Any non-alcoholic beverage in a plastic bottle is allowed (along with juice boxes)

    Tampa Bay:
    Food: YES
    Drink: Water Only (Juice boxes ok)

    Seattle:
    Food: YES
    Drink: Juice boxes only. NO water, bottles or cans. You can bring an empty sport bottle and fill it with water from their drinking fountains.

    Minnesota:
    Their site did not mention anything about food. All I could find was that NO containers, bottles or cans are allowed.

    NY Yankees:
    Couldn't find info on their site pertaining to food. All I could find was that NO glass/plastic bottles or cans are allowed.

    By Anonymous e, at 10/12/2007 12:38 PM  

  • After witnessing the fans in Phoenix last night, perhaps there is something to the exclusion of full bottles. ;)

    By Blogger Jim H, at 10/12/2007 12:51 PM  

  • Or RFK was justified in confiscating the bottle caps.

    By Anonymous Simon Oliver Lockwood, at 10/12/2007 3:48 PM  

  • E-

    Thanks for that survey of ballparks. I'm surprised, as I thought that ballparks operated on the movie theater model. This definitely changes my opinion on the matter. I had been inclined to just accept a no food policy at the new stadium, but it does seem that a number parks allow outside food. We should definitely hold the Nats to that standard.

    By Blogger Art L, at 10/13/2007 10:07 AM  

  • The no outside food rule is downright un-American. If the restaurants inside the stadium want customers, they need to make decent food at a FAIR price. I paid $10 at Fedex this past Sunday for some shitty-ass chicken tenders; I don't wanna have to do that for baseball games, too.

    As far as drinks go, here is my proposed solution:
    1. Get flask
    2. Fill said flask with Jameson's
    3. Smuggle flask into stadium, purchase 1 Coke.
    4. Mix well and enjoy!

    By Blogger Rob B, at 10/13/2007 8:49 PM  

  • Not Jameson. Bushmills.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 10/14/2007 12:28 AM  

  • Eh, Bushmill's ain't bad either.

    Course they could just put in a decent stadium bar, so we could get a pint of the black stuff.

    By Blogger Rob B, at 10/14/2007 8:02 PM  

  • Rob B, you do know they had Guinness at one of the RFK beer stands - just inside the main gate and off to the left - don't you? Not the best pint I've ever had, but far from the worst. And not the most expensive, either. I've paid more at several DC pubs than the $6 they were charging at RFK.

    Hopefully they'll have more than one bar serving Guinness at Nationals Park.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 10/14/2007 10:06 PM  

  • Chris,

    Funniest opening sentence of all your blog entries...ever....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/16/2007 12:18 PM  

  • By Blogger wwwwww, at 10/22/2009 10:48 PM  

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