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THEIR BUSINESS IS PEANUTS
Joe Jares
January 17, 1966
Feeding spectators at sports events, a multimillion-dollar industry, entails remarkable logistics and fascinating hazards. Naturally, it has developed a number of oddball characters
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January 17, 1966

Their Business Is Peanuts

Feeding spectators at sports events, a multimillion-dollar industry, entails remarkable logistics and fascinating hazards. Naturally, it has developed a number of oddball characters

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There are regular concession stands at the Astrodome, too, but the trend to luxury dominates, and not just in Houston. One of the poshest private restaurants today is the Stadium Club in Walter O'Malley's place, with its redwood beam ceilings and custom-made china. To Tom Arthur, ABC's manager in Los Angeles, the place is just a headache, however. A membership fee is required, so everyone arrives at once and expects immediate seating, window-side tables and low prices.

Candlestick Park in San Francisco has a Stadium Club that cost $600,000 (the ladies' powder room has woven silk on the walls) and features a $3.95 all-you-can-eat buffet catered by the Fairmont Hotel. The Hit and Run Club in Baltimore Memorial Stadium offers twin-bill sundaes, umpireburgers deluxe and a "rookie infield sandwich" (Swiss cheese). The Diamond Club in New York's Shea Stadium seats 950 people and is packed for every game (all unfilled reservations are canceled at 6:15 p.m.). The Stadium Club at Yankee Stadium was the first of its kind but is now lagging behind, at least in d�cor.

Racetracks still are far ahead of ball parks in high-style catering, however. Virtually every track has a fancy dining room comparable to the style-setting Cloud Casino at Roosevelt Raceway or the Turf Terrace at Saratoga. Most of these rooms and terraces lose money for the track (not for the concessionaire, of course), but the track owners are satisfied with them because they please the high-class bettors.

Despite the trend, not everyone wants to change his boyhood preferences. A wealthy Hollywood producer telephoned Tom Arthur one day from Dodger Stadium's expensive dugout-level seats. "The producer handed the phone over to a man with him," says Arthur, "and the man said, 'This is Cary Grant.' It was Cary Grant." (Into Arthur's mind came an image of the suave actor in a tuxedo seated across a candlelit table from Deborah Kerr.) "Grant said, 'I'm a stockholder in ABC and I have a complaint. You don't have enough grill space down here for the hot dogs.' We went down there and put in a big grill. All our sales went up. Cary Grant is not the only one who still likes beer and hot dogs with his baseball."

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