Stuff it: Fans fume over hoagie ban

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ON DAY TWO of Hoagiegate, the prosciutto hit the fan.

The Philadelphia Eagles angrily dug in their heels, saying they would “never” lift their ban on BYO food at the new Lincoln Financial Field.

Citywide, hoagie-makers, worried about lost sales, turned red as a cherry pepper.

And fans, accusing owner Jeffrey Lurie of price-gouging at the taxpayer-funded stadium, started talking about a boycott.

Meanwhile, the Daily News is starting a petition drive, formally asking the Eagles to drop the ban.

The furor centers on a team decision to prohibit fans from bringing outside food into the stadium, which opens next month. Team President Joe Banner contended the ban was a necessity brought about by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Yesterday, Banner said the team instituted the ban following recommendations from numerous security consultants, including the state Office of Homeland Security.

In a testy press conference at the Eagles’ South Philadelphia training facility, he accused critics of putting snack food ahead of fan safety.

“You’re putting the fans’ lives at danger,” Banner said.

Asked whether other sports facilities, including Veterans Stadium, are jeopardizing fan safety by permitting BYO food, he said, “That’s their decision . . . It would be foolish and irresponsible of us to ignore the experts.”

Was he worried about terrorists smuggling a bomb inside an Italian hoagie?

Banner wouldn’t say. Visibly annoyed, he stormed out of the briefing.

The team continued to insist the ban was not designed to increase sales at its concession stands. Indeed, before he stalked off, Banner repeated his contention that the number of fans who brought food to the Vet was “minuscule.”

Ten blocks away, at South Philly’s famous Primo Hoagies, the owner laughed at that remark.

“It’s absolutely going to affect me,” said Rich “Primo” Neigre. “Minuscule? In the Eagles’ playoff game against Atlanta last year, we made over 1,000 hoagies just for that game. At any home game, our business is quadrupled.”

The shop wraps its stadium-bound hoagies in clear plastic wrap, so security guards can make sure there’s no plastic explosive in the olive oil.

Other sliced-ham-and-provolone-crafters said they’ll take a hit if the ban is upheld.

At Slack’s Hoagie Shack in Port Richmond, game-day business spikes by 50 percent, the owner said, thanks to stadium-bound fans.

At Lee’s Hoagie House at 10th and Oregon, business triples.

“There’s a whole ritual that’s involved, coming to the store and picking up hoagies for an Eagles game,” said John Connell, who runs Lee’s outlet at 10th and Oregon. “There’s no question it’ll impact us.

“I have a hard time knocking the Eagles because they do so much for our chain,” he said.

“However, when I see the amount of public money that was spent on the stadiums, and considering their argument that the new stadiums would be good for the local economy, it’s a little disappointing more than anything.”

That dissent was reflected in scores of e-mails to the Daily News yesterday (see adjoining story).

And, though he didn’t stand up for hoagie-bearing fans, Mayor Street chimed in, saying: “I think that the responsibility is on the team to make sure that there is a variety of food that is properly priced, so that regular everyday people can afford to bring their family to the stadium and have some food. It does raise the question as to how much of a Joe-Sixpack activity professional football in the stadium continues to be.”

That’s the sentiment behind a Daily News petition to the Eagles:

Fill out a People Paper petition in today’s edition, and join the fight.

Save Our Hoagies!


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