DENVER (KDVR) — Are extra beer sales worth the extra fights that will go with them? Depends on which academics you ask.
The Colorado Rockies are extending Coors Field alcohol sales to the end of the eighth inning instead of the seventh after rule changes to that made games about 30 minutes faster on average. The change to alcohol sales will start on April 17, when the Rockies host the Pittsburgh Pirates. They aren’t the first team to do so over the league’s new pitch clock.
Researchers have analyzed crime trends associated with alcohol sales at sporting events. The one that shows an association with fights is exclusive to American baseball.
Some studies found no evidence of any sizable rise in criminal behavior with extended beer sales. One study in the National Library of Medicine concluded: “This small body of evidence indicates no consistent effects of changes of <2 hours on alcohol related outcomes. Four events of increases in hours of sale were studied. Only one study of increased hours of sale in Perth, Australia, reported substantial increases in wholesale alcohol purchases, assaults, and motor vehicle crashes. Two studies (of events in England and Wales and in Ontario, Canada) did not provide numeric results but reported small and inconsistent changes in alcohol-related outcomes including alcohol consumption, multiple alcohol-related causes of mortality, and motor vehicle crashes. Two studies of increased hours of sale in Scotland also reported small and inconsistent changes in alcohol sales and consumption.”
Another, published in the Journal of American College Health, did see an uptick in crime around American college football games when alcohol was sold, particularly alcohol-specific crimes.
“To inform this decision, we report on offenses occurring at a campus football stadium and surrounding community on game day weekends between 2009–2013,” the study reads. “On average, 330 total crime incidents occurred when alcohol was not sold (2009-2011) compared to 475 annually when alcohol was sold (2012-2013). Liquor law violations and alcohol consumption by a minor were the two most frequently cited offenses.”
Alcohol sales around baseball games, though, were associated specifically with more fights, according to a study from the University of Pennsylvania Law School that analyzed ten years of crime patterns around the Phillies’ stadium.
“We found that when there are extra innings and more game-time after the seventh inning alcohol sales stoppage crime declines significantly around the stadium,” the report reads. “The effects are largely driven by a reduction in assaults. The crime reduction benefit of the last call alcohol policy is undone when a complex of sports bars opens in the stadium parking lot in 2012. The results suggest that alcohol consumption during baseball games is a contributor to crime.”