The University of South Carolina baseball team beat rival Clemson by a football-like score of 14-3 Sunday. And while the win secured a 2-1 series victory for the Gamecocks, fans were feeling shortchanged by the experience at Founders Park, notably the inability of concessions stand workers to keep up with demand.
And fans weren't shy about sharing their distaste.
"It's the Clemson game," Chris Lee tweeted to USC athletic director Ray Tanner with the hashtag #dobetter and a photo depicting Sunday's long lines at the ballpark. "Should've been better prepared for the crowds. But this is an ongoing issue that is never addressed."
In reply, Tanner tweeted, "Totally in agreement with your assessment. Aramark, our concessionaire was briefed earlier this week and they failed. It is being addressed."
According to The State of Columbia, S.C., the Twitter string continued, with other fans chiming in — some calling Aramark "total trash" and others accusing Tanner of throwing the concessionaire "under the bus."
Contacted by The State on Monday, Lee said the lines in the first and second innings were 100 people deep. "And I don't want to miss two innings waiting on a Diet Coke," said Lee, who has season tickets for both USC baseball and football. "It happens every big conference game. They just aren't prepared."
Jeff Crane, USC's executive associate athletics director who oversees concessions, said that Aramark uses community groups, mostly school and church groups, to staff the stands at baseball and basketball games. On Sunday, the baseball game started at noon with an announced capacity crowd of 8,242, while the women’s basketball team tipped off just a few blocks away against Mississippi State before an announced sellout of 18,000. "It was a little bit of a perfect storm," Crane said. "We were short a few staff and we shouldn’t have been."
That left some concessions windows closed at Founders Park. "With five or six more people, we could have had them all open,” said Crane, who added that the university is in the second year of a 10-year contract with Aramark and is working with the concessionaire to create more points of sale in all venues, including Williams-Brice Stadium. "We're going to with them to make the experience better."
“Anytime we don’t deliver the best experience, it’s not acceptable for us,” he said. “And long lines are not part of the best experience for our fans."
No plans to change concessionaires are on the table, according to The State.