Did I capture your attention with that headline?
In 1974 the Cleveland Indians decided to host a 10 cent beer night. Sounds pretty sweet doesn’t it…although, you have to keep in mind that regular priced beer was only 65 cents. This YouTube clip recounts the nights events: https://youtu.be/DeTpnOzoPdw
Students in our Events Management course took a look at this incident and debated whether this was just a bad idea or a poorly executed event. Here are a few responses.
By: Karl Patterson
The 10 cent beer night fiasco has poor planning written all over it. The Cleveland Indians staff, the beer truck company, the fans, and really everyone involved made this one of the most disastrous promotions in MLB history. The Indians wanted to prove to the Rangers that they could get fans out to rally for their team and chose to do so by enticing them with cheap beer. The thing the Indians did not do is plan for all the incidents that a stadium full of drunks could cause. The Indians should have increased all for this event including vendors, security, crowd managers, etc. Even if all of these people were not security people, the idea of having more staff monitoring could have helped immensely. They should have also had more promotions people at the game in order to “put out the fires” as they were happening. As soon as fans started rioting the entire thing could have been shut down by the promotions people as well. Security should have had more control over fans jumping onto the field and they should have been kicking people out when they were throwing things onto the field. The beer truck vendors should have been the ones responsible for setting regulations when it came to maximum beers per guests and should have been properly staffed for the event. There should have been more than 1 truck with 2 girls in it in order to service every fan for the entire game. The company should be able to use previous experiences from similar events to know that 1 girl at the register and 1 girl filling glasses was not anywhere close to enough people. The players and fans are also at fault because the fans should have been able to regulate themselves where they weren’t absolutely annihilated while at the game. The players shouldn’t have joined in on the fights either, but should have went back into the locker room until the chaos was shut down. Overall, there wasn’t anyone that was involved in this night that did anything to help the situation. The planning, including backup and emergency plans should have all been thought out ahead of time and should have been shut down when needed to.
By: Eric Horwitz
I believe that 10 cent beer night for a sporting event can be a good idea, and it can generate ticket sales and revenue, but in order for the night to run smoothly, all aspects must be taken care of beforehand. To begin with, you have to expect that with beer being 10 cents, individuals will get drunk and this can easily cause problems, so a good idea would be to cut people off after 2 or 3 beers. Also, a stronger police force within the stadium on this given night would have been a smart idea to help eliminate any issues that arise. Also, a problem that I saw when watching the video was that there were only 2 girls in charge of selling the beer. With such high demand for beer, and only two individuals selling, this is a red flag for things to get out of hand extremely easily. Nowadays, beer at sporting events is extremely high priced, I understand this event happened in 1974, but 10 cents is pretty much giving beer away for free. Had the price been inflated a bit higher, it could have helped tame any problems, although whenever alcohol is involved, you must be aware that things can get out of control quickly. If this was planned out, problems could have been avoided with more staff to sell and more police to control issues. This is a good idea to bring in revenue, but at the same time, it is a problem that can easily cause many problems to arise as we saw in the 1974 Cleveland Indians game.
By: Emma Chandler
10 cent beer night was a wreck from start to finish. The lack of staff undermined the ability of guests to get beer and when drunks get angry they tend to cause more problems than they are worth. They should have had more security and should have placed some of them by the girls that were selling the beer. This could have prevented the table being thrown at the beer truck and then they might not have left. Once people started running out on the outfield constantly the whole game should have been shut down as well. Increasing the age limit for drinking would have helped keep the population under control as would have limiting the number of drinks and keeping track of how many each guest has bought via markings on the hand or hole punching a wristband. No one thought this plan through and even though changes were made in the future 10 cent beer nights, it still isn’t a particularly great idea. I can see dollar beer nights being a thing if the limit is done properly and staffing issues are taken care of but you can’t even make a profit off the madness if fans are drinking right out of the tap because your staff ran away due to safety concerns. This promotion was a bad idea from top to bottom and poor planning turned it into a tragedy.
By: Abbey Robinson
Increasing ticket sales and attracting new fans are goals as typical as they are reasonable. Although these goals were behind it, the Indians’ infamous Ten Cent Beer Night showed us that good intentions do not always equate to good outcomes if all event details aren’t adequately planned and all risks aren’t adequately covered.
An 8oz. glass of beer is only half a drink, but since the quantities were unlimited, the small size did not mitigate the amount that fans were drinking. The article points out that in future promotions, fans were limited to four 10-cent drinks per person. There are many other ways intake could be limited but still seen as a value by fans, such as making the promotion for a certain amount of time. At my league’s roller derby games, for example, cheap beers ($2 for cans of Stroh’s, I think) are served, but only in the hour between the doors opening and the game starting. This encourages fans to arrive early. Some do “stock up” and drink the beer for over an hour, but such a setup creates more control while still offering a deal.
Besides decreasing the amount of alcohol, increasing staffing in a few key areas is another thing the Indians could have done differently to help this event be more successful. The two-person beer serving system was inadequate to manage sales demand, and the 50-person security team was unable to control the crowd. With more beer stands and a larger sales staff, lines would be shorter so the crowd would not be frustrated to the point of theft while the staff would not be overwhelmed to the point of abandonment. With a larger security staff, more people could have been in position to prevent fans from leaving the stands, and to monitor the items being brought inside. Preparing ahead of time for large crowds with more security and police-level staff would have been better than being forced to react mid-event with a SWAT team. After viewing the video and article, it wasn’t clear to me what happened to the first few spectators who rushed the field. If there had been enough near-field security to catch them before the field or to catch them quickly on the field and publicly arrest them, this could have deterred others from doing the same. As-was, the organization could not stop the early leaks before they turned into a flood.
With a combination of promo limits and sufficient staffing, an alcohol-related marketing event could be successful, but after watching Ten Cent Beer Night footage, one realizes the risks and likely considers other approaches. However, alcohol isn’t always the fuel for event disasters. Through YouTube’s subsequent suggestions, I was interested to find out about Disco Demolition Night, which happened in Chicago (and involved the Tigers) during 1979. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1CP1751wJA