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Industry News

Tampa Bay Rays file lawsuit against Centerplate

Major League Baseball franchise the Tampa Bay Rays has filed a federal lawsuit against Centerplate, its former hospitality partner, due to an alleged breach of contract.

The club did not renew its contract with Centerplate following the conclusion of the 2017 season.

According to local news website 10News, the suit states that Centerplate “surreptitiously cut corners, underreported gross receipts, concealed performance issues, underpaid the Rays, and underperformed under the Concession Agreement to the detriment of the Rays and their fans.”

The lawsuit goes on to allege that Centerplate “consistently failed to perform and neglected its obligations despite the Rays’ repeated calls for improvement” and failed to “deliver the requisite quality of service and standard of performance required…to properly operate and maintain the concessions equipment and facilities…to keep or provide accurate records to the Rays regarding revenues and commissions owed… to pay the Rays its agreed-upon share of the revenues from concessions (and) to indemnify the Rays for Centerplate’s negligence.

“As a result of Centerplate’s frequent contractual violations, its pattern of misconduct, and overall mishandling of the stadium’s concessions, the Rays have suffered significant harm. Centerplate’s inappropriate actions and glaring failures sullied the Rays’ brand and reputation, shorted the Rays on considerable revenue and other sums due and owing, caused significant lost profits, and inflicted extensive out-of-pocket costs.”

Tropicana Field (pictured), the Rays’ current home ballpark, was recently ranked by Sports Illustrated magazine as the MLB’s worst when it came to concession health inspections.

Centerplate responded to the lawsuit with the following statement, which was reported by 10News: “Having been the Rays’ hospitality partner for 20 years, we are both stunned and disappointed by these allegations. After failing to come to financial terms on a new deal this season, we expected an orderly and amicable transition based on a tenure characterised by good relations and mutual respect. There is no basis for this last-minute action and we intend to vigorously defend our reputation in court.”

The lawsuit also points to “senior level oversight”, disputes over revenue, damage to the Rays’ brand and reputation, and unpaid legal bills related to a concession sign falling on a fan’s head.