Thursday, March 31, 2016

Good news/bad news at Suns games

The Jacksonville Suns open their season next week under a new management team, and I've got good news and bad news.

The good news: they will have Omission beer available, if you want a beer.

The bad news: no gluten-free hot dog buns. But the hot dogs themselves are gluten free, and you can bring in a gluten-free bun if you want (although there is no such thing as a good gluten-free hot dog bun).

I went to a media food tasting event today at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, which gave me an opportunity to meet with the Suns' food officials and find out what's available.
View from Sundowner Lounge window

I was happy to see that Ernest Hopkins, the chef and director of food and beverage, is knowledgeable about cross-contamination issues, which is basically why they are limiting the gluten-free options.

Hopkins even went out of his way, with no prompting from me, to bring me a hot dog on a plate that had not touched a bun so I could at least try the hot dogs at this event. The only other food available that I could try was oven-baked chicken wings, which are available in suites at Suns' games.

Mary Nixon, assistant general manager for food and beverage, said you can bring your own food to the ballpark if you have a medical necessity, such as those of us with celiac disease. She suggested you call the team before you come to the park to let them know you're bringing food, so there were won't be any problems at the gate.

The Omission beer, as has been the case with gluten-free beer at Suns games for the past few years, will be available only in the Sundowner Lounge inside the park. The lounge has always been a strange place because it was away from field but as part of a ballpark renovation this year, the lounge was expanded with a window so you can actually look out and watch the game while you're there.

Nixon and Hopkins are open to suggestions about more gluten-free offerings. I said they could possibly offer gluten-free buns with hot dogs at one location (the Suns had been doing this in the Sundowner Lounge). While that wouldn't be completely free from possible cross-contamination, it could be a reasonably safe bet.

So maybe we'll get some updates from them on gluten-free offerings during the season. I'll be waiting to hear.

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