Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Vermin in Angel Stadium: Who Ya' Gonna Call?

As if that whole "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" naming feud didn't piss the city officials off enough, here's a whole new public relations nightmare for the Angels to consider: Rats. In Angel Stadium. Eek.

Public officials reacted with anger and disappointment Monday to news that food vendors at Angel Stadium, including its exclusive Diamond Club behind home plate, had been cited 118 times for vermin violations since 2005, far more than other stadiums in the region.

Anaheim and Orange County officials said they were considering whether to take more aggressive steps to force the team to clean up the stadium, and the team said it was considering stepping up efforts on its own....

Curt Pringle, the mayor of Anaheim, said the city has "pride in the public facilities we own," but admitted to embarrassment over the situation. "We require them to be managed to a certain standard."

The matter is slated for discussion during a closed session at today's City Council meeting. Anaheim owns the stadium, which is leased to the Angels.

The violations included 33 "major" citations, in which evidence of rodents or pests was detected in areas where food is stored, prepared or served. Most were issued in 2005 and 2006, although there have been two more this year -- one at a concession stand under the right field bleachers just last week. [And just think, we've got the Olmedo Saenz Pavilion in right field, and yet they've got the health violations. Clearly, the extra food at Dodger Stadium is not going to waste.] In each case, the vendor's permit is voided until the concession is cleaned up and passes a reinspection.

Of the 60 restaurants and food stands in the stadium, 30 had major violations, which were discovered over the course of more than 400 inspections. The violations were first reported by the Orange County Register on Sunday.

A large part of the problem may be something that would also, seemingly, be a no-brainer to fix: The Angels have been leaving the detritus that is a byproduct of any large gathering of people -- half-eaten food, discarded wrappers -- in the stands overnight, until the cleaning crew comes in the next morning.

In San Diego and Los Angeles, the Padres and the Dodgers send out the cleanup crew immediately after each game. Their citations were vastly lower -- two in San Diego's Petco Park and seven in Dodger Stadium, the Register reported. The Honda Center in Anaheim, where the Ducks play, had just one vermin citation during the same period.

The Angels say the problem stems from the stadium's open-air design and proximity to the Santa Ana River, and that heavy rains in 2005 drove rats into the stadium and contributed to the high number of citations that year. Team spokesman Tim Mead said the team had increased its pest control efforts and had reduced the problem each year.

"We take very seriously our [responsibility for] health issues at this ballpark," he said.

A lot of other blogs and newspapers have already picked this article up, so I don't want to pile on top of the heap (largely because it's a rat-infested heap of garbage, and I'm scared of rodents). So instead, let me suggest another remedy: Spider-Man.

That's right, Spider-Man. Spider-Man has a lot of experience with Vermin, stemming from Vermin's first appearance back in August 1982 (in Captain America (volume 1) #272--but we can't really call on Captain America right now, can we?) Spider-Man is well aware of the neuroses of Edward Whelan, and how Arnim Zola turned the impressionable mind of a sexual molestation survivor, and turned him into "a cannibal humanoid rat, with a strong sense of self-preservation, feral instincts and a child's mind." Vermin is also arachnophobic, so Spidey's got that going for him, too.

Spider-Man has not only defeated Vermin on a number of different occasions--he has also helped reform Whalen into a un-mutated, law-abiding genetic researcher, following Spider-Man's defeat of Baron Zemo (which allowed Whelan to release his pent up hate and rid himself of the Vermin persona). From the perspective of the Anaheim City Council, law-abiding genetic researcher equals steady income stream equals tax revenues. If I were in their shoes (besides having a lot of empty shoes), I might worry a little less about raising rancor about the problem, and instead focus on making an opportunity out of the solution.


Rob said...

This is, of course, simply brilliant.

Anonymous said...

The vermin resembles the Angels.

Delino DeShields, Sr said...

Hope they didn't have violations with Lizards, Carnage, and Kraven the Hunter!

Steve Sax said...

Actually, the Dodgers are having enough problems with Carnage of their own.