Colorado Rockies fans won’t be able to grab a cheap hot dog from sidewalk vendors outside Coors Field as they have in years past — but they will be able to pay premium prices for drinks and snacks at the ballpark’s new $10 million rooftop deck.
The city of Denver suddenly began enforcing a decades-old ordinance keeping food vendors away from the ballpark, a rule that had been ignored in the past.
“For whatever reason, we lost touch with that part of the agreement and we allowed some vendors to come in,” Denver Public Works spokeswoman Christine Downs told Denver’s 7News. “We noticed the mistake last year.”
That the move comes at the same time Coors Field unveils its latest food and beverage area strikes some people as less than coincidental.
“Obviously it’s part of a monetary competition,” said street food vendor Nick Dinezza on conservative talk show host Peter Boyle’s show Thursday. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the same year the ban is enforced, The Rooftop opens. We’re not part of the boy’s club, you know?”
“The Rooftop” is a 38,000 square foot two-tiered party deck above right field that offers a commanding view of the Denver skyline and the mountains beyond. It includes a 52-foot-long bar, a burger stand and a margarita bar.
“As a baseball guy, I want fans to come out,” Rockies owner Dick Monfort is quoted as saying in the Denver Post during a media tour of the new facility on Wednesday. “I think this will liven up the park. It’ll bring in some younger people and get them where they’re amongst themselves.”
Money for the new party deck came from surplus capital construction funds and revenue from the food and beverage concessionaire, the Denver Post reported, not from the funds used to pay the team’s salaries. The Rockies have finished last for two consecutive seasons and haven’t made the playoffs since 2009.
But Rockies fans are loyal, with Coors Field being the 10th busiest ballpark in Major League Baseball in 2013.
Which is all the more reason to allow the street vendors to take advantage of the crowds, some argue.
“Let businesses benefit from the fact that the stadium is bringing in people and not shoo or push the people away,” food cart owner Adam Kulikowski told 7News.
He and others can still sell their snacks and drinks, but they’re now restricted to a buffer zone keeping them well beyond the gate areas that are typically packed with baseball fans.
One vendor told Denver’s Fox31 that he was given conflicting information when he asked why the change was being made after years of being able to operate within the restricted zone.
“When we went to Excise and License they told us they were enforcing the regulation because Coors management had requested them to,” Joyl Watkins said. “But when we asked Coors folks they said the move was mandated by the city.”
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