Minor League Team Learns Not to Mess with Hockey Fans and Their Beer

Hockey fans are a generally a pleasant lot, unless you somehow disrupt their ability to watch the game with a cold one in hand.

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Hockey fans are a generally a pleasant lot, unless you somehow disrupt their ability to watch the game with a cold one in hand.

Puck Daddy recently alerted us to the tale of a group of hockey fans that are suing their local arena in Boise, Idaho, after they discovered the "large" beers they had been spending their hard-earned money on contained the same amount of beer as the "small" beer offered at the concession stand, but at a three-dollar price increase.

CenturyLink Arena, the proud home of the East Coast Hockey League's Idaho Steelheads, used to charge $4 for a small (16 ounce) beer, and $7 for a large (20 ounce) beer. On one hand, these are nearly reasonable prices compared to the exorbitant charges common at other arenas. But, on the other hand, fans discovered the price discrepancy was a total sham. Both small and large beer cups held the exact same amount of beer, according to this video uploaded to Youtube by Steelhead fan Gwen Gibbs:


But, it turns out, Gibbs' complaint is a fairly common one at sporting venues across the country. From hockey rinks, to baseball fields, to football fields, plenty of examples can found on YouTube of fans getting stiffed for their extra drops of beer. Seattle Seahawks fans have suffered through similar injustice:

Oakland Athletics fans know the Steelheads' pain, too:

But those fans kept their fight for justice within the realm of social media shaming, which almost never exacts any real change. These intrepid hockey fans discovered a similar issue and decided to do something about it.

Don't mess with hockey fans and their beer, because they get results. Just a few days after the above video appeared on YouTube, CenturyLink announced their large beer would become significantly larger. “It was recently brought to our attention that the amount of beer that fits in our large cups also fits in our regular cups. The differentiation in the size of the two cups is too small," conceded Eric Trapp, the team and arena president, on CenturyLink's Facebook page. "To correct that problem, we’re purchasing new cups for the large beers that will hold 24 ounces, instead of 20, for the remainder of this season to provide better value to our fans." But some Steelhead fans still were not satisfied with the result. 

Three Steelhead fans — Brady Peck, Michele Bonds and William and Brittany Graham — filed suit against the area for $10,000 in damages. They had each purchased at least one large beer at an untold number of hockey games over the last five years or so, and they want compensation. "While different shapes, both cup sizes hold substantially the same amount of liquid and are not large versus small in actual capacity," Wyatt Johnson, the attorney for the wronged hockey fans, says in the lawsuit, according to the Associated Press. "Defendants knowingly sold each of their beers in a similar manner at each event held at the arena where beer was sold for at least the last five years." It seems the bond between CenturyLink Arena and Steelheads fans has been irreparably broken. 

So now the group must try and overcome the lost trust over the great Beer Debacle of 2014. Given this is a small representation of the team's fanbase as a whole, but they are merely the vocal minority, probably. Some are just as upset but not nearly zealous enough to take the team to court, probably. They have season tickets to consider and hopefully renew. How ever could the team repair the relationship with their fan base? Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshinski has an idea

Our suggestion for the Steelheads, going forward: Next season, every fan gets a free large beer. One. Every game. Put a little picture of a beer on their tickets and punch that image with a holepunch when they come and collect their suds. It’s really the only way to reestablish trust with the fans.

Free beer for all sounds like a good plan to us. Now, how much do flights to Boise, Idaho cost?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.