Welcome to the Thursday edition of The Cooler, where sometimes a cautionary tale is necessary. Let’s get to it:
*ESPN’s Outside The Lines published an exhaustive report on food safety at every major North American sports venue. There were 111 venues in all, and enough data from 107 to be included in the report, which covers routine safety inspections in 2016 and 2017.
OTL then ranked each of the 107 from worst to best in terms of what percentage of health inspection reports from various spots at each stadium turned up high-level violations.
None of the four Twin Cities sports venues on the list fared well.
The worst of the bunch, per OTL’s reporting and methodology, was U.S. Bank Stadium — home of the Vikings, which opened in 2016. High-level violations were found at nearly 60 percent of inspection points, ranking U.S. Bank Stadium 90th out of the 107 venues.
Target Field, home of the Twins, checked in No. 79 with 50.4 percent of inspection points revealing high-level violations. Target Center (48.2 percent, No. 72) and Xcel Energy Center (43 percent, No. 65) rounded out the local list. All four were in the bottom half of the rankings.
You can check out each venue and see some of the high-level violations listed for all of them on the report.
Some context, though, is also important. For the 82 venues studied that had comparable data for food safety inspections in the overall surrounding community, 73 of the sports venues had as good or better ratings.
That data, however, was not listed as available for any of the Twin Cities venues — but it’s certainly possible all or some of them would fare better than the local average. Yankee Stadium, for instance, ranked No. 102 out of the 107 venues but had a high-level violation rate much lower than the overall inspection rate in that area.
Inspection might also be more rigorous in our market than others, leading to more reported violations and the impression of less safety. It’s also possible new protocols have been put in place since the inspections were done in 2016 and 2017.
That said, food safety is a critical issue — particularly at sports venues, which serve a ton of people and increasingly are offering a wider variety of foods and beverages to entice customers.
You can read more about the larger issue in the expansive story that accompanies the report.
*Two fans at a Pacers game on Wednesday played an in-arena game that is some sort of combination of basketball and tic-tac-toe. As someone who has played a lot of tic-tac-toe lately with my 4-year-old, I am confident in saying this: She would have won. This is just frustrating to watch.
*If you think there’s a lot of scoring in the modern NBA, you probably didn’t watch a lot of basketball in the early 1980s. Today, in fact, marks the 35th anniversary of the highest-scoring game in league history. Final score: Pistons 186, Nuggets 184 in triple overtime.
Going beyond that ESPN video clip, I dug up the box score on Basketball Reference. The most amazing part: There were exactly four three-pointers attempted (two by each team, one make for each team) in the entire game. Also, the score was ONLY 145-145 at the end of regulation — not all that far off from last night’s 141-130 final in the Wolves’ loss to Sacramento.