Could it be the start of a trend?
Roasted peanuts are a baseball stadium staple—and one of the most common causes of allergy attacks. In the past few years, several major ballparks have created peanut-controlled sections for certain games, ensuring that even fans with dietary restrictions can root for the home team. The Baltimore Orioles have a “Peanut Allergy Suite,” the Oakland Athletics’ peanut-free zone is equipped with its own separate entrance, and the Toronto Blue Jays “Nut Reduced” area is staffed by emergency personnel. But no team has banned peanuts from their stadium completely.
Until now, that is. The Hartford Yard Goats (here for that name), a minor league baseball team based in Hartford, Connecticut, have become the first team in professional sports to declare their entire stadium peanut-free. Meaning, no shelled peanuts and certainly no Cracker Jacks.
The decision came about in response to a growing number of severe allergies, particularly among children. “The way we look at it, if we eliminate this one item to allow kids to enjoy a baseball game, that’s what it all comes down to,” Yard Goats president Tim Restall told The Hartford Courant. “Why prevent someone from catching a foul ball or getting a picture with [mascots] Chompers and Chew Chew because of a food item?”
Restall later acknowledges that eliminating peanuts is “no small task.” The Yard Goats’ stadium sold over 10,000 bags at $4 a pop last year. Plus, the snack and the sport are so culturally intertwined—a fact that the team plans to address by running a promotion where fans submit new lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (you can’t have a song about “peanuts and Cracker Jacks” in a nut-free zone, right?).
Meanwhile, new concessions are in the works for the Yard Goats ballpark, including caramel corn and pre-packaged gluten-free snacks. And there will be signs posted discouraging fans to bring their own peanut items inside. As the team’s general manager Mike Abramson told the Courant in that same article, “we’re going all in.”