MILWAUKEE -- For the first time in memory, the Brewers are permitting fans to buy a cold one beyond the end of the seventh inning.
President of business operations Rick Schlesinger confirmed that the Brewers -- on an experimental basis -- are extending alcohol sales at American Family Field through the end of the eighth inning. The amended policy was implemented for the final two games of the team’s home-opening sweep of the Mets, and Schlesinger said there were no reported problems.
“This is [reflective] of the fact that the games are shorter. From a time perspective, we're probably looking at selling beer for the same amount of time by extending to the eighth inning that we did last year through the seventh,” Schlesinger said. “Obviously, the safety and the conduct of our fans has primacy. We've had no issues, but it's a small sample size and we're going to continue to test it and see if it makes sense. I know a number of other teams are doing the same thing.”
With the implementation of the pitch timer, the Brewers’ first six games against the Cubs and Mets averaged two hours and 34 minutes. None of the games exceeded three hours despite the Brewers scoring at least seven runs in each of their past four games. In 2022, each of the Brewers’ first six games exceeded three hours and averaged three hours and 19 minutes.
There is no statute in Wisconsin that dictates teams must cut off alcohol sales at a certain point of the game, but teams generally cap sales at concession stands at their own discretion. Staff members who serve alcohol undergo training from a group known as TEAM, which stands for Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management.
If extended sales result in more alcohol-related misbehavior, Schlesinger said, the Brewers could make changes ranging anywhere from cutting off sales in certain sections or concourses, to restoring the former cutoff stadium-wide, he said.
“I'm comfortable that our people are going to be monitoring the situation well and making sure that people who shouldn't be served won’t be served, regardless of what inning it is,” Schlesinger said. “The vast majority of fans behave responsibly. In fact, I will tell you because I get the data, that the number of incidents of misbehavior with alcohol are down. I think people have more sensitivity and awareness.
“But again, if we see some concerns, safety is No. 1 and we'll revisit it. If it turns out that this is causing an issue or we feel that it might cause an issue, then we'll revert to what we have done previously.”
The extended alcohol sales coincided with what Schlesinger called the two toughest sales dates of every season, the first games following the pomp and circumstance of a sellout home opener. The Brewers drew 19,412 fans on Tuesday night and 18,387 fans for Wednesday’s matinee. Larger crowds are anticipated for this weekend’s series against the Cardinals, including Friday’s “buy one, get one” offer for certain domestic beers from when the stadium gates open until 20 minutes after the first pitch, and Saturday’s City Connect-themed Giannis Antetokounmpo jersey giveaway for the first 30,000 fans through the gates.
The Brewers continue to solicit fan feedback for some of the changes they implemented during the offseason, including an upgraded sound system and the return of in-stadium fireworks, a feature they didn’t anticipate fans missing as much when the pyro was temporarily replaced by new, flashing LED lights. After being one of only two MLB teams to go without a home run in the Opening Series, the Brewers hit nine in their series against the Mets -- including five in the span of two innings on Tuesday.
Because the roof and outfield panels were closed against the cold, ushers had to open some doors along the field-level concourse to help the smoke dissipate, Schlesinger said. He couldn’t remember having to take that step before.
“And I'll have no problem agreeing to an increase in the pyrotechnic budget,” Schlesinger said.
The return of pyrotechnics was the result of fans clambering for it, and Schlesinger encouraged fans to keep sharing their feedback -- positive and negative.
“We're already seeing a little bit of a spike in ticket sales and I think the best advertisement for coming to the ballpark is fun, exciting, winning games,” Schlesinger said. “You could not ask for a better script for the first three games.”