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Self-Serve Beer Is No All-Star Game Solution

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Two of the five games ever forfeited in Major League Baseball history were the result of drunken fans. This isn't the league for self-serve beer.

But why let history get in the way of a dollar? At this year's baseball All-Star Game in Minnesota, fans at Target (TGT - Get Report) Field are going to be able to dispense their own beer through the help of a machine called DraftServ. The brainchild of concessionaire Delaware North and brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD). The theory is that fans who show valid identification will be able to preload cards of $10 to $50, scan them at various machines and regulate how much they want to pour.

Oh, and it allows customers to pour up to 48 ounces of beer every 15 minutes.

There are just a few things wrong with this equation before we even get to the borderline teetotaling arguments. For one, Delaware North and Anheuser-Busch InBev plan to charge folks buying Budweiser and Bud Light 38 cents an ounce for the privilege. That's not only above the league average of 37 cents per ounce calculated by Team Marketing Report, but it's more than the same 37 cents an ounce that Minnesota Twins fans regularly pay for a beer at Target Field.

If those same fans choose an A-B InBev-brewed Shock Top Lemon Shandy or Goose Island 312 Urban Pale Ale -- which A-B considers "craft" offerings -- those will cost 40 cents per ounce. That would place them among the highest-priced beers in the league.

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But none of that should be a huge surprise. This is one of baseball's premier events and fans in attendance should expect premium prices as a result. The bigger problem is that pour rate. Even if a fan drank only those 48 ounces in an hour, that would put a 140-pound fan's blood alcohol content at .088 -- or over Minnesota's legal limit for driving. Bump that up to two in an hour, and even a 240-pound individual will blow a .10 by the hour's end. Oh, and considering the fact that the body only processes a drink an hour, that still puts that same 240 pounder at an over-the-limit 0.88 if they stop drinking for an hour.

Target Field itself is a public transportation hub and there are a whole lot of ways to get people home that don't put them behind the wheel of a vehicle, but baseball's history suggests that getting drunken fans home is the least of the league's beer-related problems. Little more than 40 years ago in Cleveland, Indians management thought it would be a great idea to run a 10-cent beer night promotion that allowed fans to buy as much beer at that price as they could. After almost nine innings of streaking, flashing and bottle-throwing, drunken fans finally stormed the field after the visiting Texas Rangers charged one of them. Players laid into rioters with bats, fans threw portions of chairs and the game was forfeited by the Indians. A 10-cent beer night later that year limited fans to two cups apiece.

Five years later in Chicago, a Disco Demolition Night promotion at Comiskey Park drew fans by letting them in for less than a dollar if they brought a disco record with them. When those records were blown up on the field between games of a doubleheader and drunken (and otherwise intoxicated) fans stormed the field, the Chicago White Sox forfeited the second game. In the words of Chicago Tribune columnist David Israel, "It would have happened any place 50,000 teenagers got together on a sultry summer night with beer and reefer."

The problem isn't with beer itself. As Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson noted after Disco Demolition Night, "Beer and baseball go together -- they have for years." Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell pitched for Stroh's, New York Yankees announcer Mel Allen dubbed home runs "Ballantine Blasts" during a partnership with Ballantine Ale, Rheingold Beer sponsored Jackie Robinson's radio show and the Red Sox's Ted Williams made Narragansett Beer a favorite at Fenway Park. The St. Louis Cardinals' Busch Stadium (Anheuser-Busch InBev), the Colorado Rockies' Coors Field (Molson Coors Brewing (TAP)) and the Milwaukee Brewers' Miller Park (SABMiller (SBMRY))are all named after big U.S. brewing families and their legacy breweries. When Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City wanted to make a big statement in its hometown, it became an official beer partner of the Kansas City Royals.

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