Craft brews shut out of pro stadiums

Ah summertime and the livin’ is easy. Clothing is minimal, and the beer just flows and flows, especially at your favourite sporting event. These days, whether it’s a 3-down football match, a major soccer game, or 9 innings of baseball, there is inevitably a connection to the world’s oldest brewed beverage. Might there have been beer at the Coliseum in Rome when the gladiators tangled with the Lions? Quite probably.

In recent years, there has been a minor ‘counter revolution’ in the beer world. Small entrepreneurs in Canada and elsewhere are determined to grab some of the market share that belongs to the biggies like Molsons and Labatts. Encouragement is being given to craft brewing, but it’s an uphill battle. On Dewdney Avenue in Regina, not far from where the Roughriders do their thing, you will find Bushwakker, quite possibly the finest example of craft brewing on the prairies.

When the Riders moved into the new Mosaic Stadium this year, the folks who love craft beer were hopeful that their favourite beverage might be there. Promising discussions took place, but when the spigots were finally opened, it was not to be. It seems the folks at Molsons gave the football club a huge whack of cash for exclusive rights to sell beer at the park.

The marriage of beer and football is relatively new on the prairies. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were the first to make it legal, and profitable, in 1970. It quickly became evident that there would be no turning back. Some say that Labatt’s Blue became a hugely popular brand even earlier because of the team that wore that colour. The connection certainly didn’t hurt sales in Manitoba.

The Roughriders were the last to introduce beer sales at their games, and it has not been without problems where-ever it happens.

Money talks, and sporting events are becoming party time more and more as the years go by.

But what about Mary Jane? Will football fans be able to smoke up at the ball park once Justin makes that legal?

Some nights, it might be just what the doctor ordered when your team serves up a stinker.

I’m Roger Currie

Roger Currie


Veteran radio journalist, now working primarily as a writer, commentator and freelance voice. My regular commentary "Currie's Corner" is heard on CJNU ( Nostalgia Radio ) at 93.7 FM. Text and audio can be found at I also do a daily newscast on CJNU, at about 7.15 & 8.15, every weekday morning. It's also posted on the CNC homepage.

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