More Booze at Fenway Won't Make a Difference

By: Jason Schwartz

Mayor Menino, Boston police commissioner Ed Davis, and the Red Sox have worked out a deal to allow the team to sell mixed drinks in a few more spots in Fenway Park. Phew! We were worried for a minute that pink-hatted Sox fans might not be able to enjoy their weakly mixed margaritas at their next Sox home game. In all seriousness, though, it’s hard to figure why this was ever an issue for Menino and Davis in the first place (aside from the fact that this is Boston, Massachusetts, home to the world’s most absurd liquor licensing process and arcane liquor laws).

The concern was, apparently, that more alcohol would lead to more unruly Sox fans, which would lead to more things like this (actually I don’t know if that was alcohol-fueled; I just wanted an excuse to post the video). Anyone who’s had a Sox game ruined by an obnoxiously sauced double-fister a seat over could identify with Menino and the BPD’s misgivings. That being said, the key question is: how much drunkenness will five additional mixed drink stations lead to? Especially considering that the Sox said the drinks would have the same alcoholic content as beer?

The answer is very little. Remember, lots of the people who’ll buy these drinks would have bought beer anyway. The actual number of new alcohol consumers is going be relatively small, according to Jim Grinstead, the publisher of Revenues from Sports Venues, a journal that compiles data on all the different ways that sports arenas and stadiums make their cash.

“There probably aren’t that many people who, if they want to have a drink, won’t have a beer,” Grinstead said. “The incremental difference in sales is going to be minimal.”

Grimstead guessed that when the new booze stations open, total alcohol consumption at Fenway will increase by “less than 5 percent.” He said that’s just a ballpark estimate (pun intended), but really, the point is that this is no big deal. Which, thankfully, after a few days of headlines, everyone seems to have eventually figured out.