Two cups of beer are causing one big headache in Idaho. Just not the hangover kind.
For years, thousands of hockey fans and other arena-goers in Idaho have paid $4 for a "small" beer, served in a squatty plastic cup, and $7 for a "large" beer, served in a taller cup. According to a lawsuit filed this week against CenturyLink Arena in Boise, the cups hold the same amount of beer, despite their apparent differences.
The arena, operated as Block 22 LLC, is accused of knowingly misleading and defrauding customers and intentionally adopting "unconscionable methods" that amounted to deceptive business practices.
The lawsuit filed in Idaho state court by two individuals and a couple seeks class-action status to represent the thousands who have bought the $7 beer. They seek punitive damages as well as more than $10,000 in actual damages.
Eric Trapp, the arena's president, acknowledged this week that the differentiation in size of its two beer cups was "too small."
"It was recently brought to our attention that the amount of beer that fits in our large (20-ounce) cups also fits in our regular (16-ounce) cups," he said in a statement, apparently referring to a YouTube video that went viral. In the video posted Sunday by a couple not connected to the lawsuit, liquid is poured from the pudgy cup into the taller cup and vice versa. Both fill to the brim.
The arena plans to immediately upgrade to 24-ounce cups to rectify the issue and "to provide better value" to fans, Trapp said.
"As we do every off season, we'll evaluate our entire concessions menu for next season over the summer," he said.
Arena spokesman Will Hoenike declined comment on the lawsuit until officials had reviewed it. The company has about 20 days to respond to the allegations in court.
Plaintiff Brady Peck is described in the lawsuit as having bought a beer at each of the 30 events he's attended at CenturyLink during the last three years. Peck was there most recently March 5, according to the lawsuit.
Michele Bonds and William and Brittany Graham attended multiple sporting events during the last five years and purchased at least one large beer, the lawsuit notes.
Their attorney, Wyatt Johnson, said filing the case was important for consumer protection.
"It's a small thing the arena has done to a lot of people," he told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
CenturyLink Arena can hold about 5,000 people for home games of the Idaho Steelheads, who play in the semi-pro ECHL hockey league, and the Idaho Stampede, who belong to the NBA Development League. Opened in 1997 at a cost of about $55 million, the arena also hosts concerts and fighting events.
Stadiums in Seattle and Oakland have had to solve similar cup-size controversies in recent years, though media reports at the time didn't indicate that lawsuits were filed in those cases.