On the Possibility of Dry Games at BMO

Posted on April 8, 2009 2:50 pm

A story that’s been picking up traction in light of what happened at the Blue Jays game two days ago, along with Rogers Center having some dry games this year is the possibility of BMO having it’s liquor license suspended for some games in 2009. On the It’s Called Football podcast from the weekend (I’m not linking, if you read this blog, you should be able to find it), the TFC VP of Operations was asked about the possibility of dry games. His response was that he couldn’t talk about it. After he had hung up the hosts said that a number of rumors seemed to indicated there would be a couple of dry dates – as many as four.

Presumably the dry dates would be sanctions applied by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. The AGCO is a

The important part here is the administration of the Liquor License Act, which you can read in full here if you like that sort of thing. A far more helpful guide of “don’ts” for those licensees looking to avoid being sanctioned is here. Some of the more relevant suggestions include:

Any number of the above don’ts could be potential trip-ups for BMO, and it’s difficult to speculate where TFC ran afoul. Underage drinking? Thrown beer cups? Intoxicated people? Drugs? Noise? All of the above?

The apparent increase in enforcement and visibility of the AGCO that’s recently taken place makes this scenario even more interesting. According to this article in the National Post from back in January, the number of license suspensions has increased 60% in the last decade. The manner of enforcement seems bizarre:

If enforcement is being done on border-line situations described in the article, it strikes me that the AGCO is overplaying its hand, with the danger of looking like it’s standards are arbitrary.

Furthermore, will dry games make any difference? Just about everyone recognizes that the people causing trouble at TFC games are drunk. But a ban in the stadium just means people will drink more before they go inside. By way of comparison, Ohio Stadium has no shortage of intoxicated spectators, even with Karen Holbrooke’s crackdown on open-container violations.

What a license suspension will do, no matter the reason, is put the focus back on Toronto’s recent fan behavior, which is the sort of attention I’m sure TFC doesn’t want.

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