They asked me what local food should be served at the new Birmingham city center stadium.
Now Birmingham, let me ask you this. Has there ever been a more important question in the history of American sport?
The company that creates the menus at Protective Stadium, stocks the concession stands, and books the local food vendors is Centerplate, which is the fun-loving offshoot of Sodexo. I learned about this on the World Wide Web after they tagged me in a tweet.
Centerplate makes food for theme parks, zoos and stadiums and the places we like to go to have a good time. From the Centerplate webpage: “We create unique guest experiences that reflect purpose and location, so your presence is appreciated, your feedback is rewarding, and your connection to the community is genuine. “
Hey, here are a lot of happy returns, Amirite?
This is the dialogue of a real conversation that I never want to have with someone I take to the protection stage:
“Go get me a hot dog at halftime.” “
“Okay, but what kind of hot dog?” “
“A Birmingham dog, of course, some silly, soft-brained mammal.” What are you from Memphis?
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Yes, Birmingham has its own hot dog, which isn’t new to Birminghamers but still seems to shock people in places like Chicago and Charlotte. Birmingham is a hot dog town, but more importantly, Birmingham is a food town and one of the best in the country.
I mean, when the New York Times came to Alabama and freaked out about Birmingham food, the city was like, “Well, yeah. This is what we do. Where were you ? How about leaving this food question to the experts from now on? “
Before I get to my dream meal for Protective Stadium, let me stress how important it is for Centerplate to get it right. The greyish boiled hot dogs with the shriveled buns and overpriced bags of salt with a bit of stale popcorn can’t make the trip from Legion Field to Protective Stadium. Don’t ruin this, Centerplate.
So which food best represents Birmingham? Someone who consumes stadium food for a living and who grew up in Birmingham might be uniquely qualified to answer this very important question for the city, but, let’s be honest, everyone loves food in this city and has an opinion which is probably the best. opinion and in fact, in their humble opinions, just literal facts.
Centerplate wants to know what you think, Birmingham, and after being invited by the company, it is my duty to share the message: “As we organize the fan experience at the new @ProtectiveStdm, we want to hear from the local community. What local #Birmingham the food you want to see at @UAB_FB games and other events on the site? “
Plus, Centerplate wants to hear from local restaurants. “Our chefs work hard on menu item ideas, but seek to tap into local connections that restaurants can partner with … interested venues can fill. this form here. “
Centerplate, you’re all crazy for doing this, or completely naive in the culinary cut-throat world that’s about to fall apart. Full Moon or Jim ‘N Nick’s or Saw’s or Carlile’s or Miss Myra’s or Golden Rule or, well, the list goes really, really long just for the barbecue.
From the moment it was official that Birmingham would build a new stadium in the city center, my mind turned to this most universal and important decision. What food should they serve at the stage of protection for the hungry masses? What drinks to serve the thirsty heroes who are the pride of the city? Which signature rate will best represent Birmingham? As we all know, and as we all tell everyone even if they don’t ask, Birmingham is good for the food at least.
The new stadium, currently under construction, is located in Uptown next to Legacy Arena and it’s fabulous. The food must be even better than the stadium itself. This is how I feel strongly about it.
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The Protection Stadium is going to be an instant hit and an iconic landmark for the city. For UAB football, it will be a transformative new home. The Blazers will start playing there next season, but the stadium will host other events as well. Get your season tickets now. For many people, great concessions are essential to the experience of being at one game and coming back to see another.
Poor food and poor customer service will drive people away at a time when you don’t even really have to be in a stadium to enjoy a game. People can just stay home, watch on their 70 inch HDTVs, and smoke their own ribs.
If it is possible to have a “Biergarten of Birmingham” in the stadium then that must be one thing because sometimes I want a Good People Snake Handler and sometimes I want a Standard Porter from Ghost Train and sometimes I want a Paradise Now from TrimTab and sometimes I just want to spend a whole day in Cahaba and then walk home.
As for barbecue, I have an idea, and I’m sure Centerplate has it in mind because it’s the best idea for a new stadium in a town where smoked meat is literally the last syllable in the name. Build a huge barbecue pit in the stadium and make it part of the show. Smoking meat and watching football is what Birmingham does better than anyone else in the world.
You can’t have a 30 foot long steaming barbecue in a domed stadium now, can you?
As for me, I am a simple man. Give me a Birmingham Dog, a Grapico, and a bag of Golden Flake Sweet Heat chips and I’ll be in Heaven. Do not ask me what makes the perfect Birmingham dog, although. These people in charge of the food in the new stadium have to come to town, get their hands dirty and find out for themselves. Maybe he’ll never want to leave after this, though.
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