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Chardonnay, merlot….and hockey

Half-a-century ago when mom or pop dropped their kids off at the arena, they parked the car, grabbed a coffee or hot chocolate from the concession stand and watched the game from the stands.

Nowadays with some modern arenas housing restaurant-bar facilities, some parents are viewing the action through the glass and with a glass in their hand.

At the StoneRidge Ice Centre on Northside Drive, in Burlington,  parents routinely patronize the Bar Down on the second floor between the two icepads while their children are playing. There are windows on each side of the restaurant and food and alcoholic beverages are available.

Some parents even have been observed bringing a glass of wine into the stands of the arena, which is a private facility.  

The Bay Observer attempted to reach operators of the Bar Down for comment, but were not successful by press time.

The Gateway Ice Centre on Fruitland Road in Stoney Creek also is a private arena with a restaurant serving alcohol.

Wine has more than double the alcohol content of beer.  More than two glasses in one hour for a 170-pund man or two for a 140-pound female could leave the consumers open to charges by the police if they are caught driving under the influence.

A recent report by the Region’s health department revealed about half the residents of Halton consume alcohol in a way that puts them at increased risk for health and social harms, including violence, neglect and impaired driving.

Dr. Hamidah Meghami, Halton’s medical officer of health, said they drink at a higher rate than the provincial average.

There are no bars or restaurants in any of the City-owned arenas in Burlington. At Central, Mainway and Appleby Arenas, where community rooms are available, organizations can rent the facilities for functions but must obtain a liquor licence if they want to serve alcoholic beverages.

Another problem that has plagued arenas for years is the traditional case of beer brought into the dressing room after an adult game of recreational hockey. The beer is normally transported into the arena in a duffle bag by a player pretending it is his hockey equipment.

Recreational leagues even have adopted the name ‘beer leagues’.

However, more and more arenas across the country are cracking down on this practice.

The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19, meaning that in the case of junior hockey teams some players are old enough to drink but others are not.

William Proulx, communications manager for the Ontario Hockey Association, said his organization is aware the situation.  

“The OHA’s alcohol policy is something that is covered and must be understood when a player completes the mandatory Player Information Program,” he said. “Each player in the OHA has completed this program at some point during the season.”

According to the Ontario Minor Hockey Association Code of Conduct, during the course of all OMHA activities and events, members must avoid behavior which brings the OMHA or the sport of hockey into disrepute, including but not limited to abusive use of alcohol, use of non-medical drugs and use of alcohol by minors.

In April of 2019 Premier Doug Ford loosened regulations related to alcoholic beverages associated with sports events. The government announced it would allow drinking in parking lots at tailgate parties when games are being played. It also declared that licensed establishments would be able to start serving alcoholic beverages at 9 a.m.

Some minor hockey tournaments start as early as 9 in the morning or before.

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