The Hartford Yard Goats (Class AA; Eastern League) will make Dunkin’ Donuts Park peanut free in 2019, citing the desire to create a more comfortable environment for those with allergies.
In response to a growing number of food allergies, it has become commonplace for teams to take steps such as hosting peanut-free nights or designating certain areas of their facilities as peanut free. The Yard Goats are planning an elaborate measure of their own by announcing that Dunkin’ Donuts Park will no longer offer shelled peanuts or Cracker Jack starting in 2019 to create a safer environment for those with peanut and tree nut allergies.
The Yard Goats hosted a pair of peanut-free games last season, but club officials–including president Tim Restall and general manager Mike Abramson–felt that going peanut free on a permanent basis would make Dunkin’ Donuts Park a more welcoming place for those with severe allergies, particularly children. More from the Hartford Courant:
The Yard Goats hosted two peanut-free games in 2018, but wanted to go above and beyond that, said General Manager Mike Abramson.
“We’re going all-in,” he said. “With a family with kids who have a peanut allergy, they don’t have to hope their schedule matches up for one game, or hope there are five tickets together in a section of 100 tickets. They can come to any game and sit in any seat.”
Abramson said he’s not aware of any incidents of allergic reactions at the park in its first two seasons, but he and Restall said they suspect parents whose children have severe allergies aren’t attending games, just to avoid peanut exposure.
“When you have a child who has a peanut allergy, a ballpark is not where you bring them. It’s not worth the risk,” Restall said. “Thinking about that, and how that affects so many kids these days, we just decided to make this change because it’s the right thing to do.”
Similar policies are rare around professional baseball. Perhaps the most similar comes from the Florence Freedom (independent; Frontier League), who in 2014 announced that they were turning UC Health Stadium into an allergy-friendly ballpark, which included removing shelled peanuts from the concessions menu. According to A-Z policies on the Freedom’s website, the ballpark “does not serve bagged peanuts in an effort to be an allergy friendly stadium and avoid the peanut dust that can be dangerous to those with peanut allergies. Candy with peanut butter is available in the concession stands, but traditional peanuts are not served.”
As part of the Yard Goats’ new policy, fans will not be allowed to bring any peanuts or peanut-based products into the ballpark.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the atmosphere at Dunkin’ Donuts Park,” Restall said in a press statement. “With more than 200 food items available, it makes sense to eliminate just two that allows fans with peanut allergies to attend games.”