HomeSportsMLBMilwaukee Brewers change beer policy for surprising reason

Milwaukee Brewers change beer policy for surprising reason

by Suzanne Halliburton
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Matt Marton/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Milwaukee Brewers are named to honor the city’s rich beer tradition. So it seems odd that the MLB team is cutting back on sales of baseball’s favorite beverage.

The Brewers decided this season to allow fans to buy beer at American Family Field until the eighth inning. That’s nearly to the end of a game, unless it goes into extra innings.

But a month-plus into the season, the Brewers are tweaking their beer policy again.

“This wasn’t related to any uptick in incidents, as the vast majority of fans have continued to be responsible and we haven’t seen anything to cause concern,” said Tyler Barnes, a Brewers senior VP.

The Brewers beer policy change isn’t that extreme. Last call for alcohol now is the seventh inning. The reason why it had been pushed back is because of a change in MLB rules. Because of a new pitch timer, games are finishing 27 minutes earlier than a season ago. The average game now is 2 hours, 39 minutes. Baseball hasn’t played games this quickly since 1984, back when Ronald Reagan was president, Americans were watching Dallas and Dynasty and people were singing along to Yes and Van Halen.

The Brewers believed that with shorter games, if they didn’t do something, the sale of beer and other concessions would drop. In other words, fans wouldn’t have enough time to drink. But that wasn’t the case.

“What we have experienced is that the sale of all concessions drops off precipitously in the later innings,” Barnes said. “And with the faster game times, the extra 15 to 20 minutes of sales has been materially insignificant.”

One sports analyst predicted that each baseball team could lose more than $1 millon from lost beer sales

Joe Pompliano, a sports business analyst, was one of the people who pointed out that shorter games would impact beer sales. That was back in mid-April.

“MLB games are now 30 minutes quicker than last year,” Pompliano tweeted. “That translates to a loss of $280,000 to $1.1 million in lost beer sales throughout the season, depending on the stadium. So several teams (Brewers, Twins, Diamondbacks, and Rangers) have already extended their beer sales deadline from the 7th to the 8th inning. And all the other teams will likely do it too.”

Fans everywhere can get a little rowdy after consuming one too many. Late last month, a former Baltimore pitcher said fans splashed beer at the pitchers as they warmed up in the bull pen. Meanwhile, Phillies pitcher Matt Strahm said extending beer sales could be a safety issue.

The Brewers beer policy always was intended to be experimental, until the team could determine the impact of the new pitch clock. That’s according to Rick Schlesinger, Milwaukee’s president of business operations. He told the Brewers could change their minds.

“If it turns out that this is causing an issue or we feel that it might cause an issue, then we’ll revert to what we have done previously,” Schlesinger said.