- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2007

D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission officials yesterday said they were surprised and disappointed by the long lines and shaky concession service during the Nationals’ Opening Day at RFK Stadium on Monday.

Sports commission CEO Allen Lew said he had hoped concession provider Aramark would have ironed out many of the kinks that led to service glitches during past home openers. But concession stand lines extended more than 20 people deep for much of the game, and many stands ran out of certain food items, including hot dog buns, sausages and margaritas.

It was a recurrence of the scene from 2005, when the Nationals were playing in RFK Stadium and most Aramark workers were not yet familiar with the stadium.

“We didn’t experience this bad a situation as when we opened in ‘05,” Lew said during the sports commission’s monthly board meeting. “Now that we’re in our third season, I would think we wouldn’t have to get into this stuff.”

Aramark operates the concessions at RFK Stadium under a contract with the sports commission. The contract expires at the end of this season.

Lew acknowledged that the crowd of 40,329 was larger than expected and said 80 percent of the Aramark workers were new employees who had been trained only recently. But Aramark spokesman David Freireich said the company was not caught off guard.

“We regret that any fan had a less than satisfactory experience on Opening Day,” Freireich said. “We are evaluating our service and working to address any issues as soon as possible.”

Nationals president Stan Kasten yesterday reiterated his disappointment with Aramark’s performance.

“I have had some very, very direct and candid conversations with both the District manager and the head of the whole company,” Kasten said. “It certainly was unsatisfactory in many ways. I have no interest in hearing any explanations.”

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