No Peanuts Will Be Sold at Florence Freedom Games - for 5th Straight Year
The Florence Freedom are celebrating their fifth season in which peanuts won't be sold at UC Health Stadium.
The Frontier League professional baseball team noted in a news release that it is proud to be the first professional baseball team with a ballpark that became allergy-friendly.
The Hartford Yard Goats, a AA team affiliated with the Colorado Rockies, became the first Major League Baseball-affiliated club to ban peanut sales.
“There’s something to being able to take your baseball loving kid to a baseball game,” Kristina King, mother of a child with a severe peanut allergy, said during a 2014 interview at UC Health Stadium, the season in which the Freedom’s policy was changed. “This decision by the Freedom opens up a whole new world to my son.”
Countless other personal conversations at the ballpark with similar families to Kristina King, social media messages and emails confirm the gratitude these families now have, the team said in a news release. Still, the challenge of educating fans without a family member or friend that suffers from peanut related allergies exist.
“The biggest misunderstanding is the nature of peanut allergies and how they can trigger a reaction,” Freedom VP/General Manager Josh Anderson said. “With an intimate venue like ours, purely the cracking of peanuts and the dust going into the air, onto the seats, etc can put fans at danger. Simply having a “section” at the ballpark without peanuts wouldn’t do anything to help most families that face this allergy.”
So a comprehensive, ballpark wide decision had to be made if UC Health Stadium was truly going to be welcoming to families with peanut allergies.
“When we decided to make our ballpark a more inclusive place for fans with serious allergies, we absolutely faced push back because we took something away they perceived as just as integral to the game as bats, balls and bases,” Anderson said. “But that was mostly a knee-jerk reaction. The fans that took the time to hear our reasoning, read the stories of joy and thankfulness from families that now could bring their son/daughter to a game for the first time ever, the list goes on, the mindset usually changed or at least came to a place of understanding. It also helps we serve baseball’s best hot soft pretzel.”
While peanuts and Cracker Jack sales have long been associated with the game, notably through the Americana tune "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", the Freedom found them not as important to their fans. Before peanut sales were halted at the Freedom, the team annually sold less than 1,000 bags per season. This represented far less than 1 percent of sales inside the concession stands, the team said.
“I think one of the reasons we didn’t sell many peanuts is they require a great amount of attention to consume. Peanuts generally require sitting, paying attention intently, etc. Here fans rarely sit in their seats long enough to continuously crack them open,” Anderson said. “Minor league baseball games present so many more things that take your attention away from just the game itself. Minor League games are a complete fan experience all over the park. From the Kids Zone, to talking on the concourse and having a beer with friends, to getting pictures with characters on theme nights, to live music, the list goes on and on of activities that would be prohibitive to the typical peanut eating experience.”
Peanuts, as well as products containing peanuts, will not be sold at the concession stands at UC Health Stadium this season. Outside food and beverage is also not permitted to be brought into the stadium.
“It’s virtually impossible to guarantee being a 100 percent peanut-free facility. Ultimately there could be fans that sneak them into any ballpark. But what we have done is to best set up our ballpark so any fan could enjoy America’s pastime without the fear of what could happen,” Anderson said.
The Freedom open the regular season on May 9 at UC Health Stadium in Florence.