The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Why can’t I get a decent drink at the game?

TS - Events - ImageOne of my long-term and sadly on-going frustrations about the New Zealand hospitality scene is that while restaurants, cafes and bars are increasingly embracing more choice and quality on their drinks lists, the beverage offerings at major sporting events, concerts and events remains stubbornly static.

At the last cricket game I attended (New Zealand versus the West Indies), my choice of beers was limited to a brown lager, a pale lager and a low-alcohol lager.  My wine drinking spectator friends assured me the wine selection was of about the same quality.

While New Zealand is not that different from other comparable nations in this regard, particularly for big events where alcohol sponsorship involves a lot of money, it does not have to be that way.

I have attended exactly one Major League Baseball game in my life (San Francisco versus St Louis).  Inside the magnificent AT&T Park in San Francisco I noted that advertising for Bud and Coors was prominent inside the stadium and indeed many people seemed happy enough with their mainstream beverages.  However, what was pleasing was the large number of craft beers readily available on draft including Anchor, Sierra Nevada, Pyramid and Red Hook.

The Washington Post recently scrutinised the craft beer offerings at baseball stadiums around America.  They found many are embracing craft beers and the drinkers are very receptive.  A wider beer selection almost always sees a better wine selection too.  At Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, craft sales were rocketing so they responded with more than 20 craft beer offerings, many of them local.  The Cincinnati Reds went from serving 42 different beers a year to 130 – the highest in the league.

Baseball franchises are huge organisations with a highly opinionated fan base.  Surely we can replicate some of these changes here and see how Kiwi fans respond.

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