By Ben Warwick

DENVER (CBS4) – Think twice about those ballpark hotdogs. A new study says Denver’s three professional sports arenas rank among the worst in the country for health inspection violations. The venues were ranked fourth-, sixth-, and eighth-worst, respectively.

Broncos Stadium at Mile High ranked the worst of the Colorado venues, with an 80.43% violation rate, according to an ESPN study.

That report says health inspectors found rodent droppings under pallets of beer in a warehouse area of a main kitchen. adequate hot and cold water was not found at one mobile cart, and bloody mary mix was being stored at room temperature instead of being chilled. In all at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, 92 outlets at the stadium were inspected with 74 high-level violations.

At Pepsi Center, the study found a 75.86% high-level violation rate.

Black mold was found in an ice machine, employees with safety gloves were found to use a dirty towel to wipe down counters, then serve ready-to-eat food to customers, and cheesesteaks and bratwursts were kept in a warming drawer at a temperature lower than the 135-degree mark, which is considered a safe temperature to eat.

Coors Field had a 71.96% high-level violation rate, per the ESPN study.

Inspectors found thousands of accumulated mouse feces, more than a dozen bags of chips and chocolate chips with chew holes from mice, a deceased mouse directly next to a hot water heater, one live mouse inside a pest device next to a popcorn machine, live cockroaches on a sticky pad in a dry storage room, a large cockroach under a sink in a food preparation area, a mouse inside a Cracker Jack bag, 30-40 winged insects near a beer drain and surrounding pipes, and mouse droppings on piping in a front food area.

Inspectors responded to a foodborne illness complain from a customer who had eaten kettle corn on August 17, 2017. During the inspection, inspectors found an employee eating straight out of the kettle corn popper using gloved hands, then scooping kettle corn for a customer without removing gloves or washing hands.

The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment provides some context, saying their inspections are among the most rigorous in the country. The organization does not schedule inspections and performs them while the vendors are operating in the stadium. Other city inspection teams perform theirs during off hours, and announce their inspections.

According to Director of Public Health Investigations Division Danica Lee, that will inevitably lead to a higher number of violations. However, Lee stressed to CBS4 that there are no outstanding violations at any of the venues and those violations are addressed when they are found. She also noted that none of the numbers presented in the report were particularly shocking to the Division.

It’s important to note that with large venues, especially outdoor venues, rodents are an inevitable fact. However, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment and the venues themselves have systems in place to monitor rodents and that any tainted food never reaches the consumer.

Bottom line: These venues are safe to eat at, according to the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment.

A representative for the Pepsi Center sent CBS4 the following statement:

“Pepsi Center and its food service providers are aware of today’s ESPN story. The health and safety of our patrons is of utmost importance. We continue to work diligently with our providers and with local authorities to adhere to appropriate safety standards, and whenever an issue is raised we address and rectify it immediately.”

The Rockies tweeted Thursday evening, saying the following:

CBS4 is still awaiting a response from the Broncos.

Ben Warwick is an Assignment Editor at CBS4 and is a native Coloradan. He loves sports, particularly baseball, and telling stories from around the state. Connect with him on Twitter @BenCBS4.

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