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Tipsy Padre Fans Face Beer Cutoff by Vendors

Times Staff Writer

It will be a different kind of cutoff play that fans at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium will see this baseball season if they insist on drinking too much beer.

The cutoff will not be made by a shrewd shortstop in the field, but by wary beer vendors at the 90 concession stands and vending carts who are under strict orders this season not to give refills to spectators who are drunk.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Apr. 09, 1986 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday April 9, 1986 San Diego County Edition Part 1 Page 2 Column 1 Metro Desk 2 inches; 49 words Type of Material: Correction
In a Tuesday story about how vendors at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium will be cutting off the sale of beer to inebriated fans, The Times erroneously reported that Coast Distributing supplies Coors beer to the stadium. In fact, Coast Distributing handles Anheuser-Busch products and supplies Budweiser and Budweiser Light beer to stadium crowds.

The crackdown against inebriated fans is the result of two recent programs aimed at preserving the family atmosphere of stadium sporting events.

One program, called “Eat, Drink and Be Responsible,” was initiated by Service America Corp., which also supplies food to concession stands. The company has invested $50,000 to back the theme by buying special sobriety-touting buttons for vendors, supplying written instructions on how employees can spot drunks and paying tuition for three Service America concession managers to attend a special training program on how to deal with the intoxicated baseball enthusiast.

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The two-day training program, the second anti-drunk program, is sponsored by Coast Distributing, one of the two firms supplying beer to the stadium. Holly Carter, Coast’s special project supervisor, said the seminar was designed to help concessionaires recognize the signs of drunkenness.

So when the Padres’ home opener against the Cincinnati Reds goes into the late innings Friday, vendors will be looking for more than the Seventh Inning Stretch. They will be searching for customers who have slurred speech, are unnecessarily loud or are suffering from an obvious loss of coordination.

“It’s always a judgment call,” Carter said. “But what we try to do is train people at the stadium to have the same judgment.”

The responsibility for cutting off an inebriated fan falls on the vendors, because they can be fined personally by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Department for dispensing beer to drunken or underaged spectators.

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In August the decision was made to cut off beer sales after the seventh inning, a move made by the Padres to maintain a “family atmosphere” at ballgames.

Having last call at the seventh inning has reduced concession revenues by less than 5%, said Bud Cappello, Service America Corp. general manager at the stadium.

Despite the restriction, the 3 million spectators who cheered the Padres, Chargers and San Diego State University’s football team last year worked their way through more than 30,000 kegs at the stadium.

Coast Distributing, which provides the Coors beer to stadium spectators, acknowledged that it lost a “small percentage” of its stadium revenues when beer sales were restricted, but Carter said the company believes the preventive measure is “good business.”

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Padre Owner Joan B. Kroc also has supported the push for sensible drinking through her foundation Operation Cork (the family name spelled backward), which donated 1,000 “Sober’s In” buttons that stadium employees will wear this season.

To help vendors stop illegal beer sales to Padres fans who are underage, stadium officials recently purchased 10 optical devices that detect fraudulent driver’s licenses.


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