Hoagie ban controversy unwrapped

Katherine Silkaitis

Philadelphia sports fans don’t put up with much. From booing an old favorite that left on a bad note to letting their current superstar hear it every now and again, Philadelphians demand a good show.

And as this summer’s hoagie ban controversy demonstrated, even stadium concessions can feel the heat.

Coined “Hoagiegate” by several local news stations, a statewide “food fight” nearly broke out in late July, when Eagles team President Joe Banner made a startling announcement that banned fans from carrying any food into the team’s new stadium, Lincoln Financial Field.

At the time of the controversy NBC 10 reported that, “the ban on outside food was made for security reasons in the post-September 11 environment.”

The restriction was specifically geared toward hoagies, a traditional Philadelphia game time meal.

Fan disapproval was immediate, widespread and blunt. “You should be able to bring your own food. Nobody ever got blown up with a sandwich,” one fan told NBC 10 News.

Other hoagie lovers said that it was a ploy to get fans to buy stadium food. Smart- mouth radio personality Angelo Cataldi was banned from the airwaves for his on-air protests that equated stadium security to Nazi Germany.

“What really burns me is that these team owners said they wanted to serve the public by building new stadiums, but the first opportunity they get they want to gouge the very people they said they wanted to help,” said Rep. Michael McGeehan, D-Philadelphia, to Channel 10.

Despite stadium officials’ insistence the ban is meant to protect fans and is not a moneymaking scam, not even Eagles fans Gov. Ed Rendell and Mayor John Street were satisfied with the ruling. While their talks with the state’s homeland security office found that a hoagie/food ban was the safest solution, Rendell said that security and other concerns needed to be balanced.

A much-needed compromise came from a season ticket holder’s e-mail that suggested using plastic wrap, thereby allowing security to identify food.

After much deliberation and expert consultation, a new plan was unwrapped. Fans who bring outside food can enter at any gate and all products must be wrapped in clear plastic.

“That’s a reasonable compromise,” said Villanova alumnus, Michael Madigan. “I understand their concerns, but if you can’t even eat a hoagie while watching the game, what’s the point anymore?”

As this controversial off-season comes to a close, fans and government officials alike are looking forward to finally seeing the “real” battle take to the field.

Information for this story was provided by www.NBC10.com