Aside from washing my hands when I use the restroom, I honestly don't really give much thought to cleanliness or hygiene levels when I'm at a ballgame. But if you think about it, baseball stadiums and other sporting venues can be disgusting. Between the thousands of people at any given game, it would be easy for germs to spread among the masses. Thankfully for us Padres fans in San Diego, however, we can rest assured that the home of our favorite team is one of the best kept ballparks in the major leagues.
UFE (short for Urine Feces Everywhere) is a group of people, with backgrounds in business, liberal arts, nursing, and other areas, who aim to spread knowledge to the public about health and cleanliness issues.
We’re a team of writers, researchers, and healthcare professionals dedicated to opening the public’s eyes to hidden health concerns that we are exposed to in our daily lives.
They recently visited all 30 major league ballparks in the United States, armed with a set of cleanliness standards, to observe, study, and evaluate each stadium based on over 79 different criteria, including restrooms, employees/vendors, fans, and turnstiles.
UFE took its findings and put together their 2012 Ballpark Rankings. They graded each park and put them in order from 1 - 30, with 1 being the worst offenders of cleanliness and 30 being the best of the bunch. They then grouped the ballparks into three groups:
Worst of the Worst (# 1-10)
They have let it be known that if they never stepped foot into one of the "Worst of the Worst" parks again, it would be just fine with them.
Middle of the Pack (#11-20)
On a good day, they might consider going to one of the Middle of the Pack stadiums, as long as they left by the seventh inning.
Best of the Best (#21-30)
Gladly, though, they would go to a Best of the Best stadium.
They do stress that even the best ballparks still have room for improvement. In their perfect world, everything would be touch-less (i.e. automated flush mechanisms, soap and paper towel dispensers, even automated doors). There would be no turnstiles at park entrances. Everyone would wash their hands. People handling money wouldn't be the same people who handle your food or beverages. All of this makes sense, but even today these things aren't always implemented.
That being said, they do praise those parks which show an above and beyond attention to hygiene, including our very own Petco Park. We came in at #29, outranked only by the Cardinals' Busch Stadium in St. Louis. In their rankings, Busch Stadium was the only park to get a grade of A. Petco Park got a B+ with its final score of 87.
UFE notes Petco Park's clean restrooms with touchless faucets and large receptacles, but reminds us that there is still plenty of room for improvement. They also state that we have a high number of fans who wash their hands after using the restroom. Only 2% of women and 12% of men failed to wash their hands (let's just assume those were fans of whichever team our Padres were playing). Finally, they give Petco Park props for having consistently clean concession and condiment areas.
Also among the "Best of the Best" are the Brewers, Phillies, Nationals, Giants, and Red Sox. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Cubs posted a disgusting 47% sanitation, good for worst in the league. The Dodgers came in at second worst, with 53% sanitation. The Mariners, Yankees, and Rockies also rank in the top 10, or the "Worst of the Worst."
You can check out the full rankings and descriptions of individual ballparks here.