The Boston Red Sox are asking the city for permission to serve more mixed drinks at Fenway Park this season, but allegations that the team has not been sufficiently diligent in preventing alcohol-related incidents will be addressed at a hearing today.
The hearing, before the Boston Licensing Board, will address allegations that the Red Sox failed to adequately address alcohol-related incidents at Fenway Park, including a Rhode Island firefighter who urinated over a food cart onto Van Ness Street, a Taunton woman suffering so heavily from “acute alcohol intoxication” she was restrained, and two teenagers so drunk they were taken by ambulance to Children’s Hospital.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are seeking permission to sell mixed drinks at five additional concession stands at Fenway Park. Some conditions have already been placed on the request, including one that a 10-ounce drink contain only an ounce of alcohol. (For those keeping score at home, that’s a little more than half a jigger.) Initial approval has already come from the licensing board; final approval lies with the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino says there’s no correlation between the five incidents being investigated by the licensing board and the request to serve more mixed drinks, and he’s right. Yes, there’s a lot of booze flowing at Fenway Park, maybe more so than at the average ballpark, given the Red Sox close a street and open the taps well before the gates open. But we’ve never witnessed a situation where the alcohol was out of hand, and five incidents out of the millions visiting the ballpark annually really isn’t a bad percentage.
The larger issue, and one that should be on baseball’s radar, is the growing perception that fans are getting out of control, an issue reinforced by the nasty beating of a Giants fan in the Dodger Stadium parking lot and the death of a Pirates employee near PNC Park. Unrelated, to be sure, but one that should be addressed with some grace by the powers-that-be in baseball before there’s another incident in the headlines. It’s always a fine line for an industry that pushes family entertainment along with Thirsty Thursdays.
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