MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WFRV) – Several MLB franchises are relaxing the alcohol cutoff times at their stadiums to increase sales and give fans more time to enjoy their beverages during shorter games.
At least four teams — the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers — have chosen to extend sales into the eighth inning as a response to the new pitch clock rule which speeds up the pace of play, the Associated Press reported.
“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,” Rick Schlesinger, Milwaukee’s President of Business Operations, said in an interview with MLB.com.
The policy was implemented for the final two games of the team’s home-opening sweep against the New York Mets, and Schlesinger said there were no reported issues.
“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,” Schlesinger said.
Since the MLB’s implementation of the pitch clock, Milwaukee’s first six games against the Chicago Cubs and the Mets averaged two hours and 34 minutes, around a half-hour (or more) shorter than the initial games of the 2022 season. The trend stands for all teams across the current MLB season, Sports Illustrated reported, with games around 25 minutes shorter when compared to 2022.
MLB parks have generally stopped selling alcohol after the seventh inning, though some had already extended sales. Vendors at Orioles games, as the AP pointed out, often sell beer into the eighth inning (or three and a half hours after the first pitch), and the Rangers had tried it last year, too.
But this season, the Rangers are allowing fans to order beer from their phones, so they won’t have to get up and miss the now-shortened games.
Schlesinger added that the Brewers organization could always “revisit” the policy if instances of disorderly fans increase.
“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,” he told MLB.com.
The institution of a pitch clock, new for the 2023 season, was designed to give the games a “better pace,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said last year. Under the new rule, pitchers are required to start the throwing motion within 15 seconds of each pitch when the bases are empty and 20 seconds when there are runners on-base.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.