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TODAY’S FOCUS: Controlling Beer Sales at Sports Events

March 14, 1985

Undated (AP) _ Only low-alcohol beer will be sold to Detroit baseball fans this season at Tiger Stadium, where officials hope to promote a ″more healthy atmosphere.″

At Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pirates fans can sit in a new ″Family Section″ if they want to avoid rowdy beer drinkers.

And folks attending Denver Gold football games can’t buy beer during much of the fourth quarter at Mile High Stadium.

It’s all part of a move by officials to try to control excessive drinking at sports events.

″The management of our arenas has come to recognize that this has become an increasing problem over the years,″ said Frank M. Rose, vice president of the Harry M. Stevens company that runs concessions at Shea Stadium, Fenway Park, Giants Stadium and Candlestick Park, as well as the Astrodome, Nassau Coliseum, Madison Square Garden and Byrne Arena.

Rose said different policies are in effect for different arenas. In some cases, such as Giants Stadium, beer is sold only at concession stands; in others, beer is not sold at specific events. In addition, he said, low-alcohol and no-alcohol beers are also being offered.

In keeping with the Stevens policy, the New York Mets will be offering low- alcohol beer at all of Shea Stadium’s vending stands. Last year, half of the vendors carried the low-alcohol product. A spokesman for the club said the Mets hope to reduce excessive drinking with the new product. In addition, he said, there will be restrictions on the time beer is sold.

The Tigers have had a policy of permitting only two beers per customer at a time. Beginning with the 1985 season, Tiger Stadium vendors will sell only low-alcohol beer.

Pittsburgh’s ″Family Section″ will consist of 500 seats set aside in box seat and general admission areas, where additional security guards will be stationed and a no-alcohol rule enforced.

Steve Greenberg, director of sales and marketing, said drunkenness has not been a major problem at Three Rivers Stadium.

″There have been scattered incidents. But we think the fans perceive this as a problem,″ Greenberg said.

Rich Bjorklund, the stadium’s general manager, said studies are under way to determine fan reaction to the sale of only low-alcohol beer.

″It’s not an easy thing,″ Bjorklund said. ″Pittsburgh is a damn good crowd from the standpoint of behavior. I would classify Pittsburgh’s ‘public’ as better than average. We deal with drunks here - they’re simply not allowed to stay.″

At California Angels games, fan can only buy beer at snack stands, not in the seats.

″We try to monitor people as they come to the stands and if they do seem intoxicated, we would not sell them beer,″ said Kevin Uhlich, director of stadium operations.

Uhlich took his hat off to the Tigers ″for a bold and initiative step″ in selling only low-alcohol beer.

″I’m sure it will be looked at by other clubs, evaluated and contemplated,″ Uhlich said. ″We might see other clubs taking steps in that direction.″

The Denver Gold of the United States Football League said it plans to stop selling beer to fans early in the fourth quarter at home games in Mile High Stadium. Officials said the purpose was to allow fans to sober up before going home. There are, however, no plans to sell low-alcohol beer at Gold games.

At Chicago’s Comiskey Park, management has discussed offering low-alcohol beer this season, said Pat Redden, Comiskey manager for Sports Service, Inc.

Redden said if there was an increase in alcohol-related incidents at the ballpark, they would probably begin using low-alcohol beer. Redden said his outfit stops selling beer in the seats in the middle of the eighth inning, and stops selling in individual sections or in the whole ballpark if things get too rowdy.

The Metrodome in Minneapolis only sells 3.2 beer, at both baseball and football games. When the Twins play, vendors selling beer stop sales in the seventh inning, but sales continue at the stands until the eighth or ninth inning. At the Vikings’ games, vendors stop selling beer after halftime, but sales continue at stands until the end of the game.

No changes in this policy are expected; however, the Twins are exploring the possibilty of a ″family section″ similar to Pittsburgh’s. David Moore, operations manager for the Twins, said they may try it on an experimental basis.

The Los Angeles Dodgers say they have long had a program on serving alcohol at their baseball games.

″We work with the alcohol beverage control board and ask them how we should conduct ourselves,″ said a concessionaire at Dodger Stadium who asked not to be identified. ″We instruct our bartenders. We don’t sell any beer in the aisles. We sell it behind the counters. We check IDs and tell bartenders not to serve anybody they think might have had too much to drink.

″I think that every stadium in the country is in to some kind of program to keep this thing from being abused. It certainly is no feather in our cap to send somebody out of the stadium who’s had too much to drink. We haven’t sold beers for years in the pavilions. We just thought there has to be some areas where some people who don’t want to drink beer can go.″

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