It’s a sweltering night at Shaw Park, and the action at the concession stands continues to be brisk in the late innings. It’s still 30 C outside — warmer with the humidity — and fans can’t seem to get enough.
It’s no small task, keeping a crowd of several thousand nourished for three-plus hours at a time, at least 50 dates every summer. But it’s an important part of the overall baseball game experience.
"It makes it that much more enjoyable," says Melissa Schlichting, food and beverage manager for the Winnipeg Goldeyes, who oversees a staff of 150, with about 65 on duty at a time.
With an eye on the game — currently in the top of the seventh inning — three chefs and a handful of "food runners" are in the final stages of preparing post-game meals for members of the Goldeyes and their opponent, the Gary SouthShore RailCats. Philly cheesesteaks are on the menu.
“Two of my great passions in life are baseball and beer, so this is a great way to combine them." -Jakob Sanderson
The kitchen has been hopping for a few hours, with made-to-order requests from the various luxury suites, which can hold up to 20 people at a time. There’s also the popular Tater Tot poutine bar for those in the suites, as well.
On the concession level, many of the 18 different vendors are starting to wind down, but fans wanting to nosh into the ninth inning still have plenty of options.
Goldie’s Grill will keep serving up treats until the final out is made, while the ever-popular mini-doughnuts can’t come out of the deep fryer quick enough.
"For me, this makes it. I love that there’s so many different things you can have," says Isabella Toms, who is clutching a bag of the hot, sugary treats after waiting in line for about five minutes with her husband Brett.
On a night such as this — the announced crowd is 3,797 — vendors will serve up 1,000 hot dogs, 300 hamburgers, 2,500 non-alcoholic drinks and 5,000 adult beverages, the majority of which is beer.
"Two of my great passions in life are baseball and beer, so this is a great way to combine them," says Jakob Sanderson, now in his fourth year of serving up suds in the stands.
He’s a popular figure on this muggy night as he hawks his chilled product. Fans can also imbibe at one of four bars on the concourse level, including the all-new Craft Beer Corner.
"We have a really good selection of beers," he says. "Compared to the other sporting venues, it’s a way better price point. So it’s pretty easy to make a sale."
Schlichting says the goal in her department is the same as those in charge of the on-field product: fill the fan's bellies and leave them hungry for more.
— Mike McIntyre
Photography by Trevor Hagan