By Ian Vandaelle
The suds are already flowing at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC)at the Gardens this week in the wake of a new sponsorship agreement with Molson Coors Brewing Company.
The three-year sponsorship agreement between Molson Coors and Global Spectrum, the firm that manages MAC, will see two Molson logos on the ice surface, two advertisements on the rink boards and four banners in the concourse area.
The deal also names Molson Coors as the preferred beer retailer at the two concession locations in the arena, with the possibility of a third mobile location being able to serve during basketball games.
Beer consumption will be limited to the bowl area of the arena, as well as the mezzanine above the multipurpose court used for basketball and volleyball. Both Molson Coors and Global
Spectrum declined to provide a dollar figure for the sponsorship agreement, citing standard business practices. Molson beer was already available for last weekend’s opening festivities, a move that brings MAC in line with similar-sized Canadian venues, said MAC general manager Keith Baulk.
“I can’t speak to the university environment totally, but I can tell you that every midsize venue in the Canadian Hockey League has some form of a beer program in place,” he said. “It’s a common practice in most professional sports venues in Ontario.”
Ensuring that student’s don’t over-imbibe on the beer, which sells for $6 for each 355ml can, was an important consideration, according to Baulk.
“The [responsible consumption] program is being developed right now and one of the keys elements of that program is a designated driver program,” he said. “Until the program is fully vetted, I can’t exactly tell you all of the components. Our staff and Molson’s are working on that right now.”
Baulk also said that a system similar to that employed at the Ram in the Rye would likely be used to ensure drinkers are of legal age, with coloured wristbands being used to denote eligible drinkers.
Athletic director Ivan Joseph said that he hoped making beer available at games — combined with the new and more prominent location of Ryerson’s home games — would help bring more of the student community out to games.
“Well, I look at it this way: we don’t have football, so typically at most games that’s the big one where you’ll sell beer, right?” he said. “As we look to move more towards a community event where we raise the profile, I’m not against it.”
His pragmatic view is shared by Ryerson President Sheldon Levy, who noted that “practically, you can sneeze and be within 40 paces of the Gardens and have alcohol, so how am I supposed to police things?”
Levy also said that he believed students would be able to make responsible decisions, and it isn’t Ryerson’s place to tell them what to do and when to do it.
“I consider the students responsible. I consider them adults and I trust them to make judgments,” he said. “I don’t feel that I have to be paternalistic and it’s quite often at the university that you’re asked to enforce things that prohibit students from doing things and I’m not in [that] view.”
Baulk said that it remains unclear when the ads will be installed at the MAC, but he expects it will be in the next month, likely in stages to accommodate the various games scheduled at the arena.