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COORS ARENA PROPOSAL A FOUL BREW

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Unbelievable! How else can one describe Coors Brewery's bold suggestion that they buy for $7 million the right to name one of Utah's sports arenas after their beer? With youth alcohol consumption on the increase in the state of Utah, we do not need another major attempt to connect sports and alcohol.

In April 1994, citizens from San Antonio, Calif., sent Miller Beer representatives quickly to a cold shower as hundreds of citizens protested after Miller agents offered $1 million to help them build a new minor league stadium in their town.Conditions were, the beer vendor said, that the stadium would have to be named Miller Lite Stadium.

Recently, USA Today announced that Coors Field in Denver, home of the Colorado Rockies, would become the first baseball stadium with its very own brewery. More than 4,000 barrels of beer are to be produced there annually, linking even more closely sports and beer by symbolically turning Coors Field into a public saloon.

Alcohol use by youth is an extremely serious health and safety problem. The three leading causes of teenage deaths - accidents, suicides and murders - are all directly related to alcohol use. In fact, alarmingly, over 50 percent of all teenage deaths are alcohol-related.

The names Coors and beer are synonymous. The potential naming of the West Valley sports arena Coors Dome would be a powerful endorsement of its product, especially for our youth.

This move by Coors is totally incongruous with earlier statements that Coors Brewery does not want underage drinkers to use its product. By attempting to link Coors Beer with hockey, a youth-oriented sport, one seriously wonders about Coors Brewery's sincerity to reduce underage drinking.

Coors should withdraw its inappropriate offer. The $7 million could be better spent supporting well-established successful youth alcohol prevention programs. The citizens of West Valley City and all of Utah cannot afford or have Coors link even more closely sports and alcoholic beverages by attaching the names of Coors and beer to a youth-oriented sports arena.

George J. Van Komen, M.D.

Chairman, Alcohol Policy Coalition