Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


July 2, 2014

Self-restraint, common sense needed with public alcohol sales

— There has been a lot of community discussion and debate in recent days as it relates to the  pros and cons of selling beer at public events in our region such as the Bluefield Blue Jays home games and the recently completed Second Chance Rocks the Two Virginias concert. I believe it is a healthy debate that should continue.

There are several good points made by both sides in this debate that merit further review and discussion. Yes, adults who are of legal age should be allowed to buy alcohol when they choose to do so. But they also have a duty to drink responsibly, and not to endanger the lives of others by driving intoxicated, or getting intoxicated to the point where they try to pick a fight with someone else for no logical reason.

When you are out and about in a public setting you should drink responsibly, and preferably not drink at all. It is illegal, after all, to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and police officers across our region are actively looking for DUI drivers everyday. No one should operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. An impaired driver presents a clear and present danger to all other motorists on the road — including children and families.

While no alcohol-related problems have been reported to date at the Blue Jay games, the season is still early and all it takes is one very intoxicated person to ruin the fun for everyone else. I was at the opening night game of the Blue Jays — and also attended a home game last week — and did not see a large number of people buying alcohol. But I did notice a few individuals who were drinking the alcoholic beverages. I bought a diet Coke, hamburger and later nachos with cheese. I rarely, if ever, have a beer at home and never drink when out in public. And I always prefer a cold diet soda over alcohol. I don’t see the appeal of getting drunk at a Minor League Baseball game.

It is also interesting to note that attendance at the big fireworks shows preceding last Friday’s game was somewhat down when compared to a year ago. In his story covering Bluefield’s victory over Pulaski, Sports Editor Brian Woodson estimated the attendance at 1,289 people. I would say that was correct based upon what I saw at Bowen Field that evening. Don’t get me wrong — it was a decent turnout. But this was fireworks night. More people should have been there for the spectacular fireworks show. In fact, the parking lot should have been packed well into Lotito Park with people — even some who didn’t attend the game — waiting to see the fireworks. But it wasn’t.

I can’t help but wonder if the negative press concerning beer at Bowen Field had something to do with it. Most families who attend public fireworks shows expect the event to be alcohol free.


When I was a student at Concord College many years ago, the college administration then, under the direction of former President Jerry Beasley, went out of its way to bring big-name entertainment to the students. We had some fantastic concerts at Concord back in the day, including Taylor Dayne, Vanilla Ice, George Carlin, Sinbad and several other great shows. There were even professional wrestling shows on campus. The concerts were a real treat for students — many of whom had never been to a big out-of-town concert before. And the best part about the shows is they were alcohol free. No suds were sold — as most of us were too young to legally drink alcohol at the time anyhow. But the shows also were open to the general public, or folks who could legally drink.

Sure a few students would still have a couple of beers at their dorms before walking down to the gymnasium for the concerts, but if they appeared drunk or alcohol was detected on their breath they were not allowed in to the show. That brings me to this year’s Second Chance Rocks the Two Virginias concert.

It was a great show. Nelly and Florida Georgia line were awesome, and very acknowledging and gracious of the 10,000-plus crowd that overflowed at Mitchell Stadium. The opening acts, including Clare Dunn, Chris Lane and Sal Gonzales, were great as well. Thank you Eric Robinson and Billy Wagner, along with all of the Second Chance sponsors, for putting together this top-notch show. But not everyone in the crowd came for just great music. Some, it would appear, came just to get wasted.

Yes, there were quite a few very intoxicated people at the show. Some were passed out. A few started fights and had to be led off the football field in handcuffs. Others were simply happy drunks. Some started consuming alcohol at noon and drank beer all day and night long. Who is to blame for this? It is not Eric Robinson or Billy Wagner. When you put on a show of this magnitude and scope, you almost have to make beer available to those who want to drink. It is the people who didn’t drink responsibly who are to blame.

What is the point of going to a show like this — and paying for higher-priced seats — if you are just going to get wasted and pass out or pick a fight with someone? That is crazy. If you are going to fully enjoy the show, and the great music, you need to be sober. I enjoyed the show. I didn’t drink. I bought two Diet Cokes and a cheeseburger. I wish more people would have done the same.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at Follow him @BDTOwens.

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