Lacking approval to sell beer at Labatt Park, the owner of the London Rippers (independent; Frontier League) has an unusual solution: he challenged the license owner to a winner-take-all playoff.
The London Majors, a semi-pro team in the Intercounty Baseball League, hold the liquor license for the ballpark. Since law dictates that only one liquor license is issued to an address, that means the Rippers have been barred from selling beer at home games — a move that certainly has impacted the team’s bottom line and depressed attendance, now at 953 fans a game. And although there has been discussions between the Majors and Rippers owner David Martin over joint use of the license, no solution emerged.
So Martin has a unique solution: he challenged the Majors to a best-of-three series, with the winner claiming the license and the loser moving out of Labatt Park:
“We want to put our money where our mouth is.” says Martin, “The Majors call themselves a minor league baseball team and a semi-pro team on their Wikipedia page, here is their chance to play the actual pros and see how they stack up.”
The London Rippers can’t sell alcohol at Labatt Park because the rights to the liquor license for the municipally owned stadium is in the name of the Intercounty Baseball Majors, with City consent and no fair resolution has been presented by the Majors or the City of London.
So, Martin wants to decide it on the field.
“At the end of the day it’s all about business.” Martin says, “I think the ballpark can only handle one team and if the city isn’t going to step up and address this issue, then we should do it ourselves. If Scott Dart wants to play George Steinbrenner and Roop Chanderdat wants to be Billy Martin, then this Martin says “let’s do it’.”
The Majors are somewhat of a local institution, playing at Labatt Park since 1925 and firmly entrenched in the community. Logic dictates that the Majors, who have all the power in this relationship, would pass.
And they did.
“If there was nothing at stake, then that’s probably an option, but for me the big thing is that it’s not even something that should be contemplated by two teams like that,” Majors co-owner Scott Dart told the London Community News. “We take our business seriously, maybe they don’t take there’s and they can be transient like that, but we’ve been around this community since 1925. We’re not going anywhere and we’re not going to be beat out by a baseball game to decide our future.”
The larger issue, apart from these theatrics, is the bad relationship emerging between Martin and the greater London community. He’s not been mincing words about his frustration with the lack of beer sales, and when such a sour atmosphere emerges, it gets harder and harder to make things right. Statements like this from Martin tend to stick in craws:
“There’s no liquor licence available at this address, except for the Majors and they’ve hijacked it,” Martin said a few days before issuing the challenge. “They’re holding it over our heads, holding it over the city’s heads, the taxpayers heads, this is a total injustice and absolutely absurd business.”
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