Fuego’s Dollar Beer Night a success, despite loss to Taos

Brandon Johnson purchases a beer from Jessica Forbes during Thursday night’s Pecos League baseball game between the Santa Fe Fuego and the Taos Blizzard. It was the first “Dollar Beer Night” promotion for the Fuego and Santa Fe Brewing Company, and fans purchased about 170 cups of the brewing company’s “Dirty Blonde” ale on tap at Fort Marcy Ballpark. James Barron/The New Mexican

“Dollar beer” sounds like a novel promotion for a professional baseball game, until you realize the trappings that can come from it.

Does “10-Cent Beer Night” ring a bell?

On Thursday night at Fort Marcy Ballpark, the Santa Fe Fuego opted to give “Dollar Beer Night” a try, and it was a success. An estimated 170 8-ounce cups of Santa Fe Brewing Co.’s “Dirty Blonde” ale on tap were served to paying customers for the game between the hometown Fuego and the Taos Blizzard. The good news was the crowd was enthusiastic, but tame as the Blizzard won 8-6 with about 200 people on hand at the park.

The ale was the lone drink available at that price — the other beers sold in cans by Santa Fe Brewing were regular price — and the Fuego front office promoted it on Wednesday morning on its Facebook page and Twitter feed. Fuego President Yvonne Encinias said the Facebook posting was the most-shared item on its page in the seven months it has been on the website.

She said the promotion and the price weren’t necessarily a strategic marketing plan.

“There are always dollar hot dogs, so we just kind of went with that,” Encinias said.

Olivia Chavez, of Pecos, said her mother told her of the promotion, but it surprised her that the club would do it.

“You know, alcohol is such delicate subject,” Chavez said. “I still think it’s a good promotion. It gets people out here, although I don’t really drink that much.”

For Fuego fans, they saw it as a nice way to reward their loyal fan base.

“When you go down to the Plaza, you’re going to spend six, seven, eight dollars for a beer,” said Brandon Johnson, who is a pastor at United Church of Santa Fe. “Here, you get a great, entertaining event with great community members, and you’re not paying as much. That, to me, is the exciting part.”

Fans lined up at the beer stand, which is located in the ticket booth, on a regular basis throughout the evening. As has been the practice for about a year now, beer vendor Jessica Forbes places a paper bracelet on each paying customer and marks it with one or two strokes of a black pen to indicate how many each has had, with a limit of three per customer.

The number seems like a good cut-off for patrons. Several fans declined to be interviewed about the event in the late innings of the game after reaching their limit.

Forbes said the bracelet has been a good system at making sure fans do not overdrink at the game.

“Most of last year, they didn’t have that,” said Forbes, who estimated she and her husband Dylan have operated the beer stand for the company 15 times this season. “So they really requested they do that this year. I think it is beneficial. A lot of people don’t like that we don’t take [credit] cards, but I think that’s good, too. If you run out of money, you can’t buy any more beer.”

There was no need to evoke images of another beer promotion that failed miserably — the Cleveland Indians’ “10-cent Beer Night” on June 4, 1974, that caused a riot at Municipal Stadium and the forfeiture of a game for the home team.

Not that there was any concern from Encinias of such a thing happening. She said the team has monitored beer sales closely, and in the Fuego’s first two seasons, fans purchasing alcohol had to drink it in the “beer garden,” which was a fenced off area on the third-base side of the stands.

Encinias said there have not been any incidents directly linked to drinking at the games in the club’s three-year existence.

“Other than a few falls, we haven’t had any serious incidents,” Encinias said. “I think it reiterates the fact that this is a safe, friendly environment. Why not be able to come out and support our town locally, support our local concessions and sit with your family and have a beer, too? People go to Albuquerque to the Isotopes to do that, so why not here?”

Beer wasn’t the only reason fans showed up for the game. The Fuego also donated $1 from every ticket sale toward the Cancer Foundation of New Mexico, a nonprofit organization that helps patients who can’t pay for transportation, lodging and meals associated with their treatment. Encinias said the club raised $163 from sales on Thursday.

Chavez was one of several people in attendance to support Nathan Sedillo, who has twice battled brain tumors, as he threw out the first pitch. Chavez said it was an emotional moment when he threw the pitch for strike.

“It was so bonito, and he made me cry,” Chavez said. “He brought tears to my eyes, because I have known his family for a long time.”

Blizzard 8, Fuego 5

Richie Anderson kept the Fuego bats silent over 6 innings as Taos built an 8-2 lead that Santa Fe could not overcome like it did in an 8-6 win on Wednesday.

While he gave up three runs in the seventh, the Fuego managed just a single run in the ninth thanks to Omar Artsen’s RBI groundout that scored Eric Kozel with the night’s final run.

Anderson allowed the Fuego five runs on seven hits and three walks, while striking out four. Craig Massey led Santa Fe with a 3-for-5 performance and three RBIs.

The two teams play again at 6 p.m. Friday at Fort Marcy Ballpark.

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