City council doesn't want suds sales in stands
Kamloops city council says beer-drinking Kamloops Blazers fans should have to do a bit of work to get a beverage during games.
Council has opted to not endorse a liquor-licence application that would allow hawkers to sell beer and wine in the stands at Interior Savings Centre.
City parks, recreation and cultural services director Byron McCorkell said the Western Hockey League club asked for the change to bring ISC in line with other WHL venues, many of which already sell beer in the stands.
“They feel that hawking is part of the experience of the rink,” McCorkell said.
However, several councillors were concerned the hawkers would encourage hockey fans to drink too much and disrupt the family-friendly atmosphere at the rink.
“I think to have it so readily available is to give a bad message to our children,” said Tina Lange. “I think for somebody to get up and burn off a few calories is not a bad thing.”
Nancy Bepple said she sees the stands at ISC as a public space and believes asking fans to pass cups of beer down the rows to buyers isn’t fair to non-drinkers, who might be uncomfortable doing so.
However, Pat Wallace and Ken Christian argued hawking is more efficient, removes some of the between-period pressure on ISC’s concession stands, and is probably less disruptive than fans going up and down to lounges.
“I hate getting up. No criticism of our recreation facilities, but those seats are not wide,” Wallace said. “Inevitably, someone wants to get by to get a beer and they tramp on your feet and you have to stand up or they’re in your lap.
“The discussion sort of takes us back to prohibition in some ways,” Christian added. “We already have drinking in the stands. Do you want to have Mr. Spillycups with his box of popcorn trying to walk in front of you or do you want someone with lids on the containers coming to you?”
Nelly Dever pointed out similar sales practices in the NBA, NHL and NFL.
“I don’t think we’re promoting and saying that you should drink if you come to a game,” she said. “I don’t drink and I’m not going to start to just because it’s right there.”
Donovan Cavers countered by saying that, just because hawking goes on in larger venues, doesn’t mean it’s right for Kamloops.
“I think we have a very nice, family-friendly arena,” he said. “And, our hockey team is in the WHL, not the NHL. It’s like comparing apples to peaches.”
Only Dever, Wallace and Christian voted to endorse the application. Mayor Peter Milobar, who owns a liquor store, recused himself from the debate.
Council doesn’t have the power to veto the liquor-licence application. However, its stance on the issue is one of the factors taken into account by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.