KNOXVILLE (WATE) – For many baseball fans, peanuts are standard fare at the ballpark. The sounds of cracking shells are often preceded by the crunch before the shells are disposed of at the feet of the peanut enthusiast. But for those with deadly peanut allergies, a night spent at a baseball game is nothing more than a dream.
The Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center, alongside the Tennessee Smokies, are working to change that for one night a year. Wednesday night, the team will host their sixth annual peanut-free night at America’s Friendliest Ballpark.
“We’ll put in about sixteen man hours,” says stadium operations Assistant General Manager Brian Webster. The operations staff pressure washers the entire stadium before each homestand, but Tuesday’s peanut-free prep work is more thorough. “We’re gonna take our time a bit more. Spend a couple extra hours.
“We have a smaller buffer and a smaller pressure washer, we’ll get someone else using to go through the seating area. In the seats we have to take just the same amount of time if not a little more than on the concourse because this is the high traffic area.”
Smokies officials estimate they go through roughly 1,000 bags of peanuts over the course of a five-game homestand, but the park also serves other foods with traces of peanuts. All of those have been removed from the park to make those attending Wednesday’s game feel safe.
“Peanut allergies cause anaphylaxis,” says Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center’s Meg Sprouse. “It’s life-threatening. It’s severe. So we want to make sure they’re comfortable. We will have epinephrine (a medicine used to treat emergency allergy attacks). We also have a provider on hand for the whole game. There’s no, no chance for an episode here.
“The first year we did this, we had kids come up to our booth and tell us this was the very first baseball game they’d ever been to. And for our doctors to hear that… that’s really perfect.”