Red Sox say increasing liquor sales really a matter of public safety, not greater profits

Red Sox officials say they want to add three more places to buy hard liquor, add sales of beer in bottles and extend alcohol sales on Yawkey Way as a way to reduce crowding in the stadium during Red Sox games and other events at Fenway Park.

At a hearing before the Boston Licensing Board this morning, Dennis Quilty, the team's licensing attorney, and Lawrence Cancro, the team's senior vice president of Fenway affairs, said Fenway's concourse was built in simpler times and cannot really handle the large flows of people who concentrate there in search of refreshments before games and events and in between innings.

"It was a mess during the World Series," Quilty said.

Holders of existing liquor licenses who seek extensions are required to tell the board the public need for the changes.

Adding sales of one-ounce mixed drinks to three existng beer concession stands would ease congestion around the existing five stands, Quilty said, adding that the team has had "no incidents whatsoever" since the board approved the mixed-drink sales in 2011.

One of the proposed new outlets would be on Yawkey Way, where the team is seeking to sell beer and mixed drinks before and during concerts and other non-baseball events. Cancro said that, again, experience - such as at the 2003 Bruce Springsteen concert - shows the team needs to "extend" the concourse onto Yawkey Way to avoid a crush of people inside the venerable bandbox. He said that for concerts, Fenway would shut off liquor sales on Yawkey Way when the opening act went on, and then would cut off food sales when the main act went on, as a way of encouraging ticket holders to filter to their seats.

Cancro added that the team's recent deal with the BRA, calls for increasing the number of times Yawkey Way becomes an extension of the park from roughly 81 a year now to as many as 120.

Cancro also said letting the Sox sell beer in wide-mouth plastic or aluminum bottles would make the concourse safer by letting workers serve beer faster to patrons, who would then spend less time milling about in line. Cancro said he doubted the Sox would see more beer sales as a result, just a less crowded, safer concourse.

He added that the bottles - whose caps workers would open and retain - would be no more dangerous than plastic cups in what he said was the unlikely event they were thrown. Because of their wide mouths, "they empty when thrown nearly as fast as a plastic cup," he said.

But he and Charles Cellucci, Fenway's director of security, said they could not recall the last time somebody threw a beer at Fenway. Pizza did not come up in the tossing discussion, but the Sox are not seeking to sell slices of pizza in plastic containers, nor is its sale subject to the same "public good" requirement as alcohol.

Cellucci added Fenway has seen a steady drop in behavior problems among fans since 2008.

Also tomorrow, the board decides whether to let the Sox continue to sell alcoholic beverages until the end of the seventh inning, regardless of what time a game started. Currently, Fenway is supposed to shut off sales at the end of the seventh or two hours after a game has started. Quilty and Cancro said this confuses and upsets some fans, who don't know about the two-hour limit, and that eliminating the limit would only bring the Sox in line with most other major-league teams.

"Once you're in the ballpark, time reverts to innings, not hours," Cancro said.

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Comments

Of course they

haven't had problems with the mixed drink sales. They are sold in very limited areas and cost a fortune. Most people who want to drink can do it more cheaply outside the park before they arrive. Generally, the folks who cause problems in the bleachers are well on their way to soused when they arrive.

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13

Seems city imposed

Or at least that's how I interpret the request to extend sales to the end of the 7th regardless of time that has passed. My recollection is that at the 2007 ALCS games, beer was sold after the 7th, but maybe that was a special one time variance.

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10

In general

The idea is that most of the 38,000+ fans arrived by car from places far from downtown. By stopping service a few innings before the end of the game (and those innings are the longest innings with numerous pitching changes, etc.), they hope to put the driver back on the path to sobriety before he causes an accident on his way home.

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15

Good!

The 7th inning rule doesn't really prevent any drinking past the 7th inning. How many people do you see double fisting beers right before they cut it off? 2 beers for the remaining innings is enough to keep you at your current state of blasted (unless it goes into extras). If they were really worried about serving drunks, wouldn't they just do what every bar in the universe does, which is cut off the clearly inebriated? This policy never made any sense to me, and good thing they are looking into changing this around. Boston already has the stereotype of a city that closes up early.

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14

If the Sox were so concerned

If the Sox were so concerned about public safety there would be no liquor sales and a massive PSA campaign against drunk driving before and after games. This is nothing more than cash grab now that they've been emboldened by the BRA giveaway of Yawkey Way.

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11

Come on

the red sox aren't sending anyone who is impaired onto the roadways. That's an individuals choice to make, do I break the law or do I not. There's no reason to punish the responsible, law-abiding fans who want to be able to get a beer without having to wait in line for 15minutes.

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12

EXACTLY

Not sure how the Red Sox are responsible here. If someone has a designated driver, takes a cab, relies solely on transit, etc, then throw the book at the assholes who break the law and are clearly too mentally deficient to take care of their own self.

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Just trying to take more business from surrounding places

...and get that cash in Red Sox hands. Just like the food sales on "blighted" Yawkey way, the sox want to capture ALL the money. Recall that a lot of the argument for selling our public streets so cheaply was because they bring so much to local businesses. Now, they want to take more of that local alcohol business away.