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Should beer be sold at Titans games? Tim Gaffney takes a look.

POSTED August 18, 2013
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: The Torrington City Council on Monday will take up the issue of allowing a change in the Fuessenich Park rules to allow the Torrington Titans to serve beer during Futures Collegiate Baseball League games.

In February of 2012, an expected yes vote turned into a 5-1 defeat after some late reversals derailed the plan, which has long been a bone of contention within the community.

The current Torrington City Council is made up of six members, Gerald Zordan, Elinor Carbone, Paul Samele, Gregg Cogwell, Maria Soliani and Drake Waldren.

Torrington Mayor Ryan Bingham, who is not running for re-election this fall, could cast the deciding vote either way if the Council ends up deadlocked at 3-3.

Opponents of the change worry about abuse at the ballpark, which is considered the “Jewel of Litchfield County” when it comes to a place to watch baseball at many levels.

The proposed change would only allow the Titans to sell alcohol at Titans games.

After visiting several other FCBL ballparks who served beer over the last three seasons, I have seen nothing that would make me afraid to see beer sold during Titans game.

Understand, I’m there to cover a sporting event, not to drink but I understand the desire of folks who go to a baseball game have in wanting to have a beer or two.

Titans General Manager, Ed Gadomski, a father himself, has no problem with the thought of folks bringing their kids to a FCBL game where beer will be sold.

“It’s no different to me than bringing my kids to a Red Sox or Yankee game,” Gadomski said Sunday. “We will control how much anybody can buy, hire an additional police officer if need be and make sure the family atmosphere is not impacted in a negative way.”

Gadomski is well respected in the area from his years as Tri-State commissioner and after a year at the helm of the FCBL franchise, has heard enough from the public in favor of the change to make up his mind.

“Everywhere I have gone this year, one of the first questions I get from people is “when are you going to get beer”, Gadomski said. “Even if a person wasn’t sure they didn’t say no, they just weren’t sure.”

The only other team not serving alcohol in the FCBL is the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, who took home the FCBL title this year.

The Sharks play their home games on the grounds of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in Oak Bluffs, MA and cannot serve alcohol for that reason.

Serving beer at their games will not pack Fuessenich Park by any means. Torrington is a much different town than it was back in 1997 when the Torrington Twisters came to town.

Attendance at all baseball levels is not what it used to be, from the high school to American Legion or the Titans.

As a diverse community that offers a multitude of activities for kids and parents during the summer (basketball at the Armory is huge) the draw of baseball has decreased over the past decade.

Having beer available may bring in an age demographic into the mix that has been missing from the park.

The 24-40 year old crowd is not well represented at the park. You find parents with young children along with an older crowd that simply loves baseball and shows up every year.

How many more people will come to games if they serve beer? It's a hard number to pin down because of the variables like weather or even potential weather threats.

Maybe a 20 percent increase on good weather nights, but more factors still come into play with that number.

There is just something basic about having a hot dog and a beer at a baseball game.

The individual who buys a beer at a pro-game has the same responsibility that a person who has one at a FCBL game. They are still responsible for their own action when they leave the park.

They still face much stiffer penalties if they get caught and hung with a DUI.

Is there something more to folks not wanting beer at Fuessenich Park?

Is there a faction of people that simply do not want to see the FCBL franchise succeed?

Maybe but I just have never been able to understand that angle.

Why would anyone want a business that brings hundreds of fans to a single area 42 times a year, not to succeed?

I have often said that in this case, Torrington needs to get out of their own way.

Local businesses cannot help but benefit from large crowds at the park. People who come in buy gas, snacks, go to dinner and the like all the time.

I used to have the Cumberland Farms on South Main on my Frito Lay route and sales would be up 20 percent on game day and night. The players stop on their way in and load up on nuts, seeds and drinks.

For those still in fear of what could happen, put safe guards in place that can be monitored like wrist bands that limit the consumption per person while cutting off sales after a certain inning, like in MLB.

Set a trial period that allows the sale but that will be reviewed on a timely basis by the City, soliciting input from the officers that are on duty.

Will there never be a drunken fool at Fuessenich Park? Of course there will be, they are sometimes there now!

If folks think the only thing in the red solo cups is soda, they haven’t been paying attention.

Last February, a very limited group of beer supporters showed up to express their opinions, while those opposed showed up in bigger numbers.

How will it go this time around? Stay tuned…..

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