Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

August 14, 2009

Still Raining at Rogers Centre

Mr. Mario Coutinho
Vice-President, Stadium Operations & Security
Blue Jays Baseball Club
1 Blue Jays Way, Suite 3200

, Ontario M5V 1J1

Dear Mr. Coutinho:

I am writing to discuss your recent attempts to remedy the problem of drinking patrons frequenting the non-alcohol section (520/521).

First, I will summarize the changes that have been implemented of late, presumably in response to my letter of May 4:

  • The dry area has been reduced by approximately a third, with a tarp at Row 14 acting as the dividing line between the drinking and non-drinking parts of 520/521;
  • “NO ALCOHOL” is now printed on any ticket sold in Sections 520/521 (to Row 14 only);
  • Approximately five inconspicuous 8½ x 11 flyers announcing the new non-drinking area (stated as “Section 520, Rows 1 to 14”—no mention at all of 521) appear in the washrooms, concourses, and once in a while, the beer cart;
  • The Budweiser cart—after a brief and blessed absence of perhaps a week—has been reinstated in the concourse directly behind the section.

Predictably, these superficial remedies have done nothing to alleviate drinkers’ continued presence in the non-alcohol area. The only tangible result has been a smaller section facing the very same problem.

In my previous letter, I outlined the following contributing factors:

  • Inadequate signage
  • No promotion
  • Improperly trained beer vendors
  • The preponderance of empty seats, especially in the upper rows
  • Ill-situated concourse beer stand

Of these you have addressed only the fourth, and this in a most infuriating way by lopping off a third of the section. Signage remains poor; the non-drinking section is still Rogers Centre’s best-kept secret (the “NO ALCOHOL” designation on tickets informs only those who already know); vendors continue to hawk beer to non-drinking patrons; and business remains brisk at the Bud cart below.

And the latter, I suspect, is the telltale indicator of where your priorities lie. Tell me: if the non-drinking section is such an affront to drinkers—and evidently, an utter enigma for you to administer—why are you bothering? If your recent attempts to mollify the teetotal are any indication, the non-drinking section will be whittled to nothing by season’s end.

Once again, I urge you to seriously address my concerns.


Vern C. Nicholson

cc: Richard Wong, Senior Vice-President, Stadium Operations
Liquor Enforcement, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario

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