Centerplate CEO Desmond Hague was captured on video abusing a dog in an elevator. The video is pretty disturbing, so I don’t blame anyone who’d rather not watch this guy kick a puppy and yank it around by its leash. I wish I would’ve just read about the story and not pressed play, personally.
In the aftermath of the incident, fans have called for teams that use Centerplate to cater their events — a long list of teams that includes the Giants and the 49ers — to dump the Connecticut-based catering company.
Fair or not, with the opening of Levi’s Stadium and the extra attention garnered by the food (and delivery) options, the 49ers seem to be getting the lion’s share of the local backlash — anecdotally speaking, anyway. Fortune wrote a long story about how Hague’s actions could jeopardize the company he’s been running since 2009, which included a response from the 49ers.
For now, Hague remains CEO of Centerplate, and no clients have yet ended their contracts. The 49ers, in a statement sent to Fortune, said that the organization, “condemns the abuse of animals and was disturbed to learn of the recent news regarding Des Hague. We believe his actions are not reflective of the efforts and service provided by the hundreds of Centerplate employees working to present our fans with a tremendous experience at Levi’s Stadium.” (Levi Strauss deferred comment to the 49ers.)
In other words, the 49ers aren’t going to break their contract with Centerplate because of this. They might hold out hope that the company will remove Hague from his post, or that he’ll step down. But unless this becomes a financial disaster due to a large number of fans keeping their wallets in their pockets after entering the stadium, nothing is going to change.
It’ll be interesting to see if a boycott movement takes hold at either venue. Nothing of the sort happened last year at AT&T Park, when UNITE HERE Local 2 workers went on strike after several years without a raise. The union and Centerplate recently agreed to a new contract through 2019 that provided raises and back pay.
Hague also released a statement: “I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed… a minor frustration with a friend’s pet caused me to lose control of my emotional response… I would like to extend my apology to my family, company and clients, as I understand that this has also reflected negatively on them.”
Update (6:50 pm): Centerplate’s PR firm, Kwittken, emailed me the following statement from Centerplate that was released Tuesday evening:
We are aware of the incident involving Centerplate CEO Des Hague and the attention surrounding it. The company has now gathered all of the current facts from local authorities and is in the process of conducting an internal review. Centerplate does not condone the mistreatment of animals by any of its employees. Mr. Hague has agreed to attend counseling to address his anger management issues and has publicly expressed he is deeply ashamed and remorseful for his behavior. He has apologized to everyone directly involved as well as to the company’s clients and employees, and has pledged a significant, personal, multi-year financial commitment to help support the protection and safety of animals. There will be a public statement as soon as Centerplate completes its review.