In Major League Baseball, MLB games, the action moves much more quickly as a result of the pitch clock. Additionally, it means that fans will have a bit less time to enjoy a cold adult beverage.
At least four teams have extended alcohol sales through the eighth inning this season, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, and Milwaukee Brewers. While other teams, such the Miami Marlins and New York Mets, still end games in the seventh inning, they haven’t ruled out changing that.
“Totally makes sense to me,” said Tom Lienhardt, who was sipping on a beer Tuesday night before the Brewers-Diamondbacks game at Chase Field. “Since the games are shorter, you’ve got to adjust.”
Alcohol sales by teams have traditionally ceased after the seventh.
Alcohol was already being sold by at least one team, the Baltimore Orioles, up until the eighth inning or until three and a half hours following the first pitch.
Due in major part to a number of rule changes, most notably the new pitch clock, MLB games have been substantially shorter this season. The average game time went down 31 minutes through the first 1 1/2 weeks of the season, on pace to be the shortest in the sport since 1984.
The pitch clock was used last season in the minor leagues. In spite of shorter games, at least one minor league general manager, Kevin Mahoney of the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones, claimed there was no decline in concession revenue.
Even so, some major league teams felt the need to make changes.
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Last season, the Rangers permitted certain alcohol sales in the eighth inning; however, in 2023, that option will be more readily available. The decision to make in-seat service available to everyone – fans may place orders on their phones — was made, according to the team, in part in response to the pitch clock and the possibility of shorter game timings so spectators would not have to miss out on prolonged action while waiting in line at concession stands.
Brewers President of business operations Rick Schlesinger confirmed to MLB.com that their team’s move to extend alcohol sales through the eighth was an experiment.
“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,” Schlesinger said.
MLB claims that it has no control over when teams offer alcohol. The seventh inning has traditionally been the cutoff for most franchises, at least in part to prevent overserving patrons who might then hop in their automobiles and drive home.
However, despite the fact that the concession booths stopped selling alcohol after the seventh inning, the majority of teams already established locations where supporters could purchase alcohol. Many parks include VIP areas where alcohol is still available or are attached to restaurants.
“If it cuts off sales in the seventh inning, the eighth inning or the ninth inning, that really doesn’t affect our stance because regardless, we just don’t want people to drink alcohol and then drive home from the game,” said Erin Payton, Regional Executive Director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
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