The Bad News Beers – an overpriced bunch of misfit Veterans Stadium brews – may soon get yanked from the lineup by City Council.
Citing allegations of possible consumer fraud, Councilman Jim Kenney yesterday called for hearings to investigate the Vet’s food and beverage concession.
“People have gotten used to paying high prices for bad food,” said Kenney, whose Licenses and Inspections committee may hold hearings in June. “I disagree with that. We’re missing a chance to promote our city’s epicurean delights. ”
Kenney’s resolution followed reports in the Daily News about awful-tasting hot dogs that compared unfavorably to I-95 roadkill.
He said he had been spurred into action when an investigation by Joe Sixpack uncovered a half-million-dollar suds-skimming scam at the Vet. The stadium’s purported 18- and 12-ounce cups of beer were missing two ounces of brew.
After the first report last week, the stadium’s concessionaire, Ogden Entertainment, quickly removed advertising signs that stated the size of its beers.
“If true,” Kenney’s resolution stated, “this anti-consumer practice and the potentially successful attempt by Ogden Entertainment to defraud thousands of consumers raises serious questions” about the company’s suitability to continue as the Vet concessionaire.
“If it is discovered that Ogden Entertainment did in fact deliberately attempt to enrich itself by misleading consumers at Veterans Stadium sporting events,” the resolution said, the findings should be turned over to the district attorney’s office.
In a statement released yesterday, Ogden said, “Everyone sees this as a non-issue. Great-tasting hot dogs and full cups of beer have always been a tradition at the Vet. ”
To bolster its case, the company faxed copies of a 1997 USA Today article that called the Vet’s hot dogs “the best. ”
Other sources, though, have been less generous. A Web site called www.ballparks.com, for example, says the Vet is known for the loudest boos and smallest dogs.
Council President John Street said that the company “can’t be allowed to run roughshod over a captive audience. On the other hand, people don’t have to buy the stuff. ”
Like many sports fans, Street said he often brought store-bought hoagies to events instead of buying the stadium’s more-costly fare.
As the city prepares for the end of Ogden’s 15-year contract in 2000, Kenney said the Council hearings should also focus on the possibility of opening concessions to smaller, local vendors.
The city took that approach a couple of years ago when it opened up vending at Philadelphia International Airport to local fast-food vendors. Instead of selling typically bland fast food, these vendors now hawk indigenous delights, including authentic soft pretzels and cheesesteaks.
“Philadelphia is known for some of the best fast food in America,” said Kenney. “That’s what we should be offering at the Vet. ”
And, he said, it should be sold at a fair price.
“Philadelphia sports fans already feel gouged by high parking prices and outrageous prices for concession food,” the resolution said.