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EAGLES SPARK DEBATE BY BANNING BEER

SHARE EAGLES SPARK DEBATE BY BANNING BEER

By banning beer in the stadium, the Philadelphia Eagles have created some sobering debate around the NFL.

"I'd say it's a very hot topic here and in the industry," said David Flaherty, spokesman for ARA, which sells beer at Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears home games.In the aftermath of the snowball-throwing incidents during Philadelphia's 20-10 victory Sunday over the Dallas Cowboys, Eagles owner Norman Braman instructed Ogden Allied Services, Inc., the supplier for Veterans Stadium, not to sell beer in the final regular-season game and any playoff games.

Flaherty said ARA had a meeting on the issue Wednesday and added, "It's raised the awareness throughout the industry."

It hasn't made for a concensus, though.

Flaherty, for one, said he didn't expect any major effects, although other teams already have invoked curbs of various degrees.

Philadelphia is the third team to ban beer altogether, joining Phoenix and Dallas.

The New York Giants, the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills ban beer at any night games, and the Giants and Jets after halftime of other games.

In Kansas City and Indianapolis, sales are cut off after the third period, and the Chiefs also set aside sections where beer is prohibited the entire game.

The Cleveland Browns decided to cut off beer sales after the second quarter in the infamous Dawg Pound section of Municipal Stadium because fans were throwing dog biscuits, batteries and eggs. Club spokeswoman Francine Lubera said there have been fewer incidents since then.

Dale Lewis, assistant manager at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, said crowd behavior is closely monitored and beer sales are sometimes stopped early in the fourth quarter if city police, stadium security and SportService feel it's necessary.

"They see how it's going," Lewis said. "Later games, Monday night games, it's more of a problem. People don't tend to drink as much at Sunday afternoon games. There's always a few incidents, a few fights. There's always a few rowdy fans."

"Our concessionaires will do what a client wants because we're looking beyond one game's beer sales," said Caroline Wright, a spokesperson for Sports Service, which supplies beer at Cincinnati Bengals home games and Green Bay Packers games in Milwaukee.

"We as a company, and part of a volatile industry, are concerned with alcohol awareness," said Mathew Brodsky, sales vice president with Service America, which distributes beer at San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts home games. "We try to be strong and responsible members of our community. I think it's a matter of public responsibility and legal liability."

In Philadelphia, Braman was enraged after players, coaches and officials were pelted with snowballs and 74 fans were ejected from the stadium.

"We don't want this type of behavior here, and we're not going to have it," Braman said. "We're not going to sit still for it."

Beer will still be allowed in luxury boxes.

Tim Robbie, Miami Dolphins vice president of public affairs, said the Eagles' action could become commonplace in the NFL. "I think there is a trend toward making it a more comfortable atmosphere for all fans," Robbie said, adding that the creation of family sections is becoming popular around the league.