Levi's Stadium

Desmond Hague gets kicked to the curb: Centerplate to announce resignation of dog-abusing CEO on Tuesday

Hague Centerplate

It turned out that 1,000 hours of community service and a charitable donation wasn’t enough. Centerplate CEO Desmond Hague, who kicked a year-old Doberman and yanked her off the ground by her leash in an elevator surveillance video, will step down from his post. That’s according to a draft news release procured by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“Following an extended review of the incident involving Mr. Hague, I’d like to apologize for the distress that this situation has caused to so many; but also thank our employees, clients and guests who expressed their feelings about this incident,” the draft release says. “Their voices helped us to frame our deliberations during this very unusual and unfortunate set of circumstances.”

The Union-Tribune’s source also provided some details on the event that led to Hague’s ouster.

“This is totally out of his character,” said one source, who confirmed news of Hague’s impending departure but declined to be named because he was not authorized to release the news. “This is a guy who works 18 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The source said Hague had been at a reception in late July and was taking the dog – named Sade – out for a walk after several cocktails. Apparently the leash caught in his hand as Sade tried to run ahead and Hague became angry when he hurt his fingers while trying to control the animal.

I don’t understand how working 126 hours per week would preclude Hague from being a despicable abuser of innocent animals, and it’s unlikely that his successful run at Centerplate will help him much if charges are filed in Vancouver.

Centerplate hoped a contrite press release and the establishment of “The Sade Foundation” would cause the situation to go away. However, this was beyond anything a PR firm or two could wipe clean for several reasons.

  • The video was incredibly disturbing.
  • Stadium food is expensive.
  • Social media wasn’t letting this go.

With over 180,000 people signing the petition to “Fire CEO Des Hague for animal cruelty” on Change.org, and a sizable number of fans talking about a boycott (Centerplate is the food service provider for several stadiums throughout the U.S. and Canada, including AT&T Park and Levi’s Stadium), the company faced enormous pressure. The 49ers released a statement soon after the incident came to light, and the Giants followed with a statement on on Thursday.

The Giants’ statement was more extensive, ending with the following sentence: “We will continue to closely monitor the situation and any further actions taken by Centerplate and the authorities in Vancouver.” One can only imagine the amount of pressure Centerplate faced from teams, stadiums and municipalities before they finally decided to replace Hague with chief operating officer Chris Verros.

***

Centerplate released the following statement Monday morning:

Centerplate Announces Leadership Change
Chris Verros Named Acting President and CEO Following Resignation of Desmond Hague

Centerplate’s board of directors announced today that Chris Verros has been appointed to the role of acting president and chief executive officer, effective immediately, following the resignation of Desmond Hague from the company. The decision comes as a result of Hague’s personal misconduct involving the mistreatment of an animal in his care.

“We want to reiterate that we do not condone nor would we ever overlook the abuse of animals,” said Joe O’Donnell, chairman of the board of directors for Centerplate. “Following an extended review of the incident involving Mr. Hague, I’d like to apologize for the distress that this situation has caused to so many; but also thank our employees, clients and guests who expressed their feelings about this incident. Their voices helped us to frame our deliberations during this very unusual and unfortunate set of circumstances.”

Chris Verros assumes the new role with more than 35 years of experience and a reputation as one of the industry’s most respected leaders. Chief Operating Officer for Centerplate since 2010, he helped the company to achieve unprecedented growth. Prior to joining Centerplate, Verros was Executive Vice President of Boston Culinary Group and previously served as a Group President of Fine Host Corporation, following the 1993 acquisition of FanFare, Inc., a company he co-founded in 1986.

“I have been proud to work with Chris for more than 20 years, and feel that Centerplate is incredibly fortunate to have such a strong leader who can step into the role immediately,” O’Donnell added, “This past week has been very difficult for our company, our employees and our clients in particular, and I have no doubt that Chris’ experience, vision, integrity, and commitment to our values and mission will help us all move forward together.”

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