Rogers Arena Needs Craft Beer: Open Letter to Trevor Linden

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**November 11, 2014 UPDATE**

Rogers Arena, under the guidance of Jay Jones, Director of Wine & Beverage, installed local craft beer in two newly renovated areas near section 101 and 301. On November 11, they debuted three taps dedicated to local craft including Central City Red Racer IPA, Parallel 49 Gypsy Tears and Red Truck Lager.

I know which sections I’ll be buying my beer from on game days – hopefully many people will and more taps will be added as consumer demand warrants. Go Canucks Go! (and go craft beer – woo hoo!).

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August 18, 2014

Trevor Linden
President of Hockey Operations
Vancouver Canucks
Canucks Sports & Entertainment
800 Griffiths Way
Vancouver, BC   V6B 6G1

Re: Craft Beer at Rogers Arena

Recently, you have indicated that Canucks Sports & Entertainment are looking into the possibility of bringing craft beer to Rogers Arena. In the event you need further evidence that your hockey fans would like this option, I offer the following.

As a resident of British Columbia, you are likely aware of the growing popularity of craft beer. There are currently over 70 craft breweries/brew pubs in BC and by year end, this number is slated to be closer to 90. Market share for craft has more than doubled in the past four years from 9% of all beer sales in 2009 to 19% in 2013 – this equates to economic growth from $84M to $174M.

According to the Liquor Distribution branch, the figures for the year ended June 30, 2014 shows large breweries’ sales declined for the third straight year whereas microbreweries’ sales shot up 43.4%. These small domestic breweries, which produce up to 1.5 million litres annually, generated $67.4 million in this period; which is an increase of $20.4 million from the preceding year. This growth was stronger than any other alcohol category and these numbers clearly demonstrate that many BC residents prefer craft beer and elect to frequent and support establishments who offer these choices.

Many consumers choose craft beer to support the local breweries/economy and they prefer the freshness, flavour, and quality of craft over mass-produced beer. These same consumers often dislike the macro offerings, such as the ones offered in your arena, and would prefer to abstain from drinking at a game/event rather than drinking a beer they do not enjoy. As an intelligent business executive, I don’t need to point out that this means lost revenue to your organization.

In the past twelve months, there have been 34 concerts/events and 45 hockey games at Rogers Arena. Let’s do some math – some very conservative math.

  • In the past twelve months, there have been 34 concerts/events and 45 hockey games at Rogers Arena. Let’s do some math – some very conservative math.
  • The craft beer drinking population in Vancouver is larger than 5%, as the market share numbers show above, but again, let’s be conservative
  • Estimate that these 745 people would have drank two beers each
  • With 79 events and $9/beer, the estimated lost revenue is $1,059,674.40

Increase any of those multiples and your revenue and gross profits continue to decline.

Full Capacity 18,630        18,630
Capacity  80% 14,904  90%        16,767
Craft Beer Drinkers    5% 745    5%             838
Beers per Person     2 1,490     2          1,677
Number of Events*     79 117,742    91      152,580   Beers Purchased
Price per Beer    $9 $1,059,674    $9  $1,373,217   Lost Revenue

*79 Events last 12 months; no concerts in July, no playoffs

It is common knowledge that Rogers Arena has a large exclusivity contract which may hinder the ability to allow other breweries to supply to Rogers Arena. In most US jurisdictions, this practice is illegal as it does not provide fair competition to breweries who cannot afford to pay millions of dollars to have the right to provide beer. The practice may be legal in BC but it feels immoral – especially when you share the same neighbourhood with some of these breweries. The Canucks organization has always been supportive of our local communities and by promoting local craft breweries at the arena, you would be supporting the growing craft beer industry, the people they employ and the overall local economy.

Many sports venues in the US have successfully integrated craft beer into their offerings including Safeco Field who have served craft beer since it opened in 1999. As Steve Dominguez, General Manager at Centerplate indicated to me, “the Mariners are about pleasing their guests and craft beer is so popular, local-centric and provides variety.” Seventy percent of the beer offered at Safeco is craft and it outsells domestic 4:1 – in 2013 they sold roughly 11,000 1/2 barrels. Steve advised that sponsorship doesn’t dictate what they make available to their fans but they are cognizant of their official sponsors (MillerCoors, Pyramid) and thus, do not advertise the other breweries.

Safeco has a number of portable beer stations and can offer their fans variety with both macro and craft offerings. I’ve attached the Safeco Field Draft Beer list to give you an idea of how they distribute the multiple brands throughout the stadium. Rogers Arena is obviously a much smaller scale than Safeco however; the portable stations could be an effective way to offer beer variety in addition to selling at the food venues.

As most of our craft breweries are small, engaging only the breweries who could potentially supply large quantities of kegs would exclude most of the local breweries. Allowing multiple local breweries to sell their beer at Rogers Arena provides variety for the fans and puts less onus on each brewery with respect to supplying kegs.

Lastly, you may be aware of a petition I led to show our local sporting venues that their fans want a craft beer option. I’ve attached the list of 464 signatures as well as their comments.

I thank you in advance for your consideration. If you’d like further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Respectfully,

Lynn McIlwee
Canucks Fan and Craft Beer Enthusiast

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