Free beer no more

The National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightening learned the hard way that teams shouldn’t mix ticket-buying promotions and beer: During the first Eastern Conference playoff game between the Lightning and the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, the St. Pete Times Forum’s main scoreboard advertised the offer [for free beer]. Those who paid $100 toward 2004-05 season tickets were eligible for free beer during the game. The Lightning clarified their promotion Wednesday, saying the team offered four free coupons — each redeemable for a 12-ounce beer — to those making ticket deposits at Saturday’s game only. The organization said the promotion will not be used again. The coupon could also have been redeemed for soft drinks, the team said. It doesn’t seem to matter that the team refuses to serve those who are liquored up and will even offer boozers free taxi rides–public safety groups still registered their outrage: Police and several area chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said the hockey team’s offer was irresponsible. “Why attach alcohol to a season-ticket plan? It’s almost encouraging people to drink more than they should because it is free,” said Sgt. Chris Velar, who runs the Police Department’s drunken driving squad. But let’s keep this in perspective. Pay 100 bucks and get four beers? This isn’t exactly the kind of offer that would interest someone keen on getting a cheap buzz. And from a public policy point of view, news accounts will tend to focus on silly outrages like this and ignore bigger issues. Things like rumble strips on rural roads and left turn arrows on city streets are cheap and effective ways to improve road safety. The only problem is they’re too boring to garner much attention.