Is It Time To Ban Beer at the Ballpark?
When Boozed-Up Fans Create Chaos, It’s Time For Radical Change
By Dan Schlossberg (Special from the IBWAA)
This article was featured in “Here’s The Pitch” the newsletter of the IBWAA and is shared with permission. This article was published in April 2023.
First a fan attacked Dinger, the purple mascot of the Colorado Rockies.
Then a large-scale brawl broke out at a Chicago White Sox game.
And now a half-dozen teams plan to extend beer sales into the eighth inning? Maybe they should extinguish beer sales instead.
Even a player — Phillies starter Matt Strahm — has blasted that development.
If Major League Baseball is serious about wanting to attract young fans, it needs to improve ballpark safety.
That means eliminating the number of drunks both in the ballpark and on the roads afterward.
Yes, teams depend upon concessions revenue but they could compensate for lost beer sales by attracting legions of young families who might afraid to go to the ballpark.
Years ago, I wrote on numerous occasions that smoking — a known health hazard — should be banned in public. It finally happened in New York because the city, not the teams, passed public smoking prohibitions.
The same logic applies to alcohol, which is also a health hazard if consumed in large quantities.
Perhaps the answer is creating separate “drinking sections” where beer sales are allowed. After all, teams once tried separate “alcohol-free” sections.
Numerous teams have already banned beer vendors, forcing patrons to buy alcoholic beverages at concessions stands only.
That was a step in the right direction for those of us who hated getting beer spilled on us not only from over-filled cups but also from fellow fans who happened to root for the other team.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
I know baseball has long-standing ties with beer companies. I also know it had long-standing ties to tobacco companies, as I remember the giant Marlboro sign that towered over the Shea Stadium scoreboard in left-center field.
The rowdiness on Chicago’s South Side has been a problem for years. But the Denver attack on the mascot, who was merely dancing on top of the home team’s dugout, is a new one — indicating attitudes and conditions are getting worse.
Kids who saw their beloved mascot injured in front of their eyes will not remember anything about the game on the field. But they will talk about the Fall of Dinger for years to come.
That is unacceptable.
And so is extending beer sales in response to the pitch clock shortening game time.
Ballparks should not become giant outdoor saloons. And it’s hard to believe there’s not one club owner out there who will stand up and say exactly that.
P.S. Security was nowhere in sight during the fan riot in Chicago. But the umpires could have — and should have — forfeited the game to the visiting team.
It’s happened before.
HTP weekend editor Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ can’t wait to get to the museum. In the meantime, he’s covering the Braves-Mets title chase and other stretch-drive baseball for forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, and various other outlets.