The Milwaukee Brewers and the rest of MLB have had to adjust to the addition of the pitch clock this season. The goal was to make games shorter to help keep fans’ interest. Although teams understood and accepted the change’s long-term potential, a few were concerned about the possibility of missing out on concession revenue due to fans being at the stadium for a shorter period.
Five teams decided to extend the sale of alcohol to recoup some of the revenue lost. Until this season, most teams had cut off alcohol sales after the seventh inning. There is no policy from MLB on this, but it was the norm for most ballparks. American Family Field was one of the five ballparks to extend it to the eighth inning to start the season.
American Family Field Reverse Decision to Extend Alcohol Sales
After two homestands at American Family Field of giving change a chance, the Milwaukee Brewers are reverting to the norm. Brewers spokesman Tyler Barnes told MLB.com this week that the alcohol sales in the added inning weren’t worth the extended window. The good news is the change back to the seventh inning wasn’t due to behavior from the fans.
“We’ve got two homestands under our belts, and there have not been any serious issues with general behavior related to the extended sales,” Barnes said. “But what we’ve found is that the amount of time we’ve extended it by averages it out to 15 extra minutes. Because it’s late in the game, the sale of alcohol and all concessions drops off a cliff once you get to the eigth inning. The amount of sales we were experiencing was just not significant.”
Why Have a Seventh-Inning Cutoff at American Family Field?
It may seem odd to have an alcohol sales cut-off, but there is a reason for it. The goal has always been to give fans the last two innings to sober up before heading home. There was a fear that shorter games would make this more difficult, with some hoping the cut-off would jump up to the sixth inning. With the games being shorter, two innings was no longer enough.
The Brewers, Diamondbacks, Astros, Twins, and Rangers received some pushback for extending alcohol sales to the eigth. Although their goal was business related, many thought it put fans at risk after drinking at the ballpark for a few hours.
Phillies pitcher Matt Strahm has some strong words regarding the safety of the fans.
“The reason we stopped [selling alcohol in] the seventh before was to give our fans time to sober up and drive home safe, correct? So now, with a faster-pace game – and me just being a man of common sense – if the game is going to finish quicker, would we not move the beer sales back to the sixth inning to give out fans time to sober up and drive home?”
Although both parties have a point, American Family Field has fallen back in line with the majority of the other ballparks. The other four teams that extended beer sales have yet to give an update on whether the change has had much of a financial impact. With American Family Field being a beer paradise, it’s easy to think the Brewers would have seen a major financial boost with an extra inning of alcohol sales.
After reading the update and reasoning from Tyler Barnes, it may be as simple as the seventh inning just being the sweet spot. We’ll likely see teams try new ideas this season as MLB continues to try and find ways to grow the game’s popularity. Shorter games may affect concession sales short term, but more interest in baseball overall helps much more long term.
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