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A Long, Hot Summer?

For many fans, beer and ballgames go together as well as, well, beer and ballgames. For some of those fans, however, they seem to go together too well.

Recently, there has been an outpouring of concern about escalating drunkenness and rowdy behavior at Padres games. Last August, in an attempt to ensure the continuance of family-style fun at the ballpark, the Padres called time out on beer sales at the stadium after the seventh inning. Now, stadium concessionaires have announced a new crackdown on intoxication.

This season, vendors have been issued strict guidelines about when to deny a beer to a thirsty fan. Armed with two days of workshop instruction plus manuals on how to spot a drunk, concessionaire supervisors are training vendors in the art of refusing beer service to a fan who slurs his speech while ordering another one, or who stumbles while approaching the beer booth, or who is inappropriately loud.

This program puts much of the burden on the backs of those whose job it is to sell the beer. Inevitably, as we see it, arguments will ensue between vendors who refuse service to a patron whom they judge has had enough, and inebriated fans who believe they have a right to buy a beer. Such altercations can turn ugly, creating a crowd scene more troublesome than the drunk himself.

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Equally inevitable will be attempts to circumvent the new policy. After all, what’s to prevent someone from buying a couple of beers at a time, or a friend from walking up and buying a beer for his tipsy buddy in the stands? Nothing in the new rules, anyway.

While concessionaire officials express confidence that vendors in trouble will receive immediate assistance from stadium security, we wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea to include security personnel in the special alcohol awareness training. We think closer coordination of the alcohol enforcement policy among all stadium personnel could make a good policy more effective and avoid forcing a vendor to play policeman in a crowd.

We applaud the sentiment behind the effort to deal with this increasingly nettlesome problem, but we suspect that it’s going to be a long, hot summer for the stadium beer vendors. We don’t envy them their charge.


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