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Gluten-free franks, huge burger await Rays fans

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Published:   |   Updated: April 2, 2013 at 12:34 PM

ST. PETERSBURG Eating a ballpark hot dog is big part of the Opening Day experience.

This season at Tropicana Field, fans can do so at with a little less guilt.

At the new Natural Stand near section No. 146 in the Right Field Street, the new all-natural frankfurter nestled in a potato roll will be hormone-free with a natural casing that snaps with every bite. The $6 frank also will be served in the luxury suites with caraway seed-Reisling sauerkraut and a tomato fondue (a fancy word for a house-style ketchup).

Stadium concessions vendor Centerplate adjusts the lineup card of food options each season. The Natural Stand, which also will sell all-natural chicken tenders and fries for $12, is a response to fan requests for healthier food.

In the suites, a vegan offering called The Dirt List will include roasted young carrots and cauliflower and grilled Broccolini coated with extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar.

“The idea is we’re trying to give wholesome alternatives to ballpark food,” executive chef Marc Spooner said during a media menu preview today at Tropicana Field.

The increase in demand from those with specialized diets beyond the ballpark is prompting companies like Centerplate to match that interest by providing options on game day as well. A kiosk in the centerfield bleachers sells gluten-free hot dogs, sausage, snack items and beer. It is appropriately titled, “Gluten Free.”

“How many vegan restaurants could you count on your hand in St. Petersburg five years ago?” Spooner said. “Now I can count at least eight. To me, that’s more challenging than cooking a piece of meat on the grill.”

At the opposite end of the health spectrum sits the new beignets and fry bread stand, the batting helmets filled with nachos and the 2-pound “Fan vs. Food Challenge” in the centerfield Brewhouse. Fans are invited to attempt to eat a 2-pound burger with bacon and four slices of cheese in exchange for two tickets to a Rays game. Don’t forget to eat the pound of accompanying french fries.

“I could eat that, no problem,” Rays announcer Todd Kalas said. “The fries are another matter.”

jhouck@tampatrib.com


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