This article was written by West Coaster contributor Vince Vasquez. He is a think tank analyst based in San Diego, and has authored numerous reports on the economic dynamics of San Diego’s craft beer industry.
Want local beer served at Qualcomm Stadium? Now’s your chance to be heard by local decision makers.
The Qualcomm Stadium Evaluation Committee has recommended a new five-year concessionaire agreement with Delaware North Sportservice Inc. for food and beverage services at the stadium. You can find the proposed Delaware North contract and additional information here. The contract will be discussed this Wednesday in open session by the San Diego City Council’s Budget and Government Efficiency Committee (listed as Item 8). You can attend the meeting as a member of the public to learn more about food and beverage sales at Qualcomm, but this is a quick run-down of why craft beer enthusiasts should care about the proposed Delaware North agreement:
Qualcomm Stadium has a poor track record of supporting local brewers.
Under the current stadium concessionaire Centerplate, only one local beer is sold (Green Flash), which is not easily accessible, depending on the event and your seating location. More easily found are the “crafty” brews produced by Big Beer and marketed and sold as craft, including Goose Island IPA (the Chicago-based brand ABInbev acquired a few years ago), Third Shift Amber (a Coors brand), and Shock Top Belgian White (ABInbev again).
More troubling, the public has been given no explanation as to why more local beer isn’t sold at Qualcomm. Since the publishing of my first op-ed on this topic, I have heard from two separate sources that there is a “pay to play” culture when it comes to beer distribution and sponsorship dollars at our region’s largest public facility. If this is true, it would mean that there has been an unethical (and possibly illegal, as pay to play is against the law in the beer industry) disregard to local small businesses that could be providing more food and beverage products to Qualcomm. It may also mean that Delaware North could be subject to the same pressures, and continue a lock-out of local brewers from the stadium, if nothing is done to change the status quo.
The Delaware North agreement also affects beer sales at a new Chargers stadium.
As part of the agreement, Delaware North has been granted a “right of first refusal,” meaning that if a new Chargers stadium opens before the end of their five year contract, they have the right to automatically become that stadium’s concessionaire if they so desire. So, for those placing their hopes in a new stadium offering a different approach to local craft beer, that process starts now.
It’s also important to remember that tailgating is expected to be phased out with a new Chargers stadium, as the Q’s sea of asphalt will be converted into residential housing complexes and commercial buildings. With parking lot pre-partying no longer an option, Chargers fans will need a craft-beer friendly stadium concessionaire more than ever.
The City of San Diego wants Qualcomm Stadium to support local businesses.
Despite the lack of serious commitment at Qualcomm to supporting local food and beverage suppliers, San Diego City Hall is indeed committed to changing the status quo in the future. As part of the Delaware North agreement, the City states that it wants Delaware North “to include local brands in its offerings, either as product suppliers, licensees or subcontractors to improve the quality, public perception and popularity of the menu offerings.” They’re also required to “identify local products and vendors to utilize throughout the Stadium,” and provide to the City a business plan annually (starting this June), detailing “objectives and proposed initiatives on pricing, culinary programs, and customer service for every food and beverage department.”
The City still needs to impress upon Delaware North and the Qualcomm Stadium management team the importance of supporting San Diego brewers and other local food and beverage suppliers. That’s where you come in. The first vote on the agreement will be this Wednesday, and your help is needed raise awareness and public support for local brewers who are willing to compete and sell their beer in the stadium.
There are three ways you can take action right now to support San Diego brewers and ensure more local craft beer is served at Qualcomm Stadium:
Voice your support for local beer to be sold at Qualcomm Stadium by sending an email to Committee Chairman Todd Gloria at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are welcome to use or modify the suggested template below for your email.
“Re: Item 8 – Support Local Craft Beer Sales at Qualcomm Stadium”
Dear Chairman Gloria,
As a San Diego resident and supporter of the local craft brewing community, I am concerned about Qualcomm Stadium’s poor track record of serving local beer on tap. More sales of local food and beverage products generates more revenue that is reinvested back in our neighborhoods, creating good jobs and supporting small businesses. As you review the proposed stadium concessionaire agreement with Delaware North, please press for a firm commitment to sell more San Diego products, including local craft beer. Thank you.
The deadline for sending comments to Chairman Gloria is Tuesday, April 14th, at 9PM.
Tell your friends about the proposed Qualcomm concessionaire agreement, and encourage them to send an email to Chairman Gloria. Share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Get the word out to your local brewery and brewpub, and ask them to share their opinions and perspective with the Budget and Government Efficiency Committee.
The public hearing where the concessionaire agreement will be reviewed by the Budget and Government Efficiency Committee will be this Wednesday, April 15th at 9AM at the City Administration Building, at the Council Committee Room, 12th Floor, located at 202 C Street. Public comments are limited to three minutes, and Public Comment Request forms must be submitted prior to the start of the meeting.