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Frankly speaking, food sales brisk
10/14/2004 8:01 PM ET
ST. LOUIS -- If we cook it, steam it, grill it or pour it, they will come.

By the busload. All hungry for baseball and tummy-warming food and drink.

That was the theme for Sportservice and its army of concessionaires at Busch Stadium as they prepared for Thursday night's invasion of a whooping battalion of St. Louis Cardinals fans at Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

More than 50,000 aficionados were expected under a Midwest roof of clouds, and that means setting up 45 food, drink and souvenir stands served by a small army of 600 staffers geared for action.

"We can serve everybody in three hours," boasted Shirley Kramer, human resources manager for Sportservice. "We do it very well. We have the best ballpark hot dog there is, but we also do lobster and steak."

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Dogs are the favorite. Kramer estimates on this chilly evening close to 84,000 hot dogs -- kosher ones with sauerkraut or grilled onions, jumbo, brats or regular -- will be consumed, an average of almost two per fan.

"That's tradition at Busch, to come here and eat hot dogs, with the best mustard and ketchup," said Kramer. "We've been doing this for a long time, and it's so cool to watch this place gear to do this. We start out with a day crew, which distributes goods to the stands. And then we have supervisory staff and concessionaire-stand people set up.

"We are so ready when the fans start rolling in," said Kramer, who doesn't look like a drill sergeant but coordinates her command with authority and deftness.

Volume of food? The numbers are staggering: 10,600 bags of pretzels, 3,000 hamburgers, 28,000 bags of peanuts, 10,000 cases of beer -- at 24 beers per case -- sold by vendors, 10,000 cups of hot chocolate, maybe 6,000 cups of coffee.


"We even pop our own popcorn here," said Kramer. "We start selling goods at 5 p.m., when the gates open, and we're done in about four hours, depending on how long the game lasts."

Beer won't be sold after the seventh inning, per Major League rules.

What makes Busch special is Sportservice allows charities and groups to sell goods on commission, getting a percentage of the income. It's good for community relations and the Cardinals.

"They come from all walks of life. Different societies, churches groups, the armed forces -- it's a wonderful program for the fund raisers, and they do a great job for us," said Kramer.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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