By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — The city’s quest to brand its new 5,500-seat amphitheater with the name of a beer should be nipped in the Bud.
The North Carolina ABC Commission will soon consider whether to support an exemption to the state law that prohibits alcoholic beverages from being part of the name of a public venue. The move would allow Raleigh to call its $2.6 million McDowell Street facility the Bud Light Amphitheater in exchange for an undisclosed sum of money that Mayor Charles Meeker says would help cover a “very substantial portion” of the project.
“It is sad, but true that Raleigh apparently is willing to sell out to the alcohol industry, willing to endanger its young people even further in a culture where alcohol is already the most commonly used and abused drug among our youth,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We urge the ABC Commission to stay the course and not make an exception that would set a new and troubling precedent.”
Underage drinking cost the citizens of North Carolina $1.4 billion in 2007, according to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). Further studies show that alcohol advertising and marketing have a significant impact on youth decisions to drink.
According to a proposed five-year contract with Anheuser-Busch, the amphitheater entrance would include a Bud Light marquee and the beer’s name and logo would be in all print, radio, television and online advertising connected with the concert venue. A-B would also develop banner ads and logos for the City’s Web site.
Response from the public on two online polls has been mixed. WRAL’s poll on Thursday showed 61 percent supporting the Bud Light sponsorship, but a similar survey on PollDaddy.com the same day had 64 percent sending city officials back to the drawing board for a better name and another 18 percent undecided.
ABC Commission Chairman Jon Williams told the media his three-member panel will vote on the matter next month.
“It’s never been done before in North Carolina, and we want to be very cautious about anything that might promote a pro-alcohol culture in North Carolina,” he said in a WRAL interview televised Wednesday.
Fellow commissioner A.D. “Zander” Guy had told the Christian Action League last fall when he was named to the panel that he was concerned about underage drinking and wanted to make sure the issue was kept in the forefront.
According to the City’s agreement with LiveNation, the amphitheater will host 15 to 20 events each year, which the A-B draft contract describes as “live music concerts, comedy shows, cultural events and other City and community events.” No doubt its first concert — The BackStreet Boys on June 6 — will draw more than a few teen and pre-teen fans.
“Research shows that youth are most susceptible to alcohol ads. So to say that we don’t want our kids drinking and then to turn around and make a public facility in the heart of the Capital city into one big beer promotion simply doesn’t make sense,” the Rev. Creech said. “No amount of sponsorship money is worth endangering the health of our young people.”
Watch the video of the WRAL News Story on the controversy:
Take Christian Action: Whether from Raleigh or other places across the State, a decision by the North Carolina ABC Commission to allow Raleigh’s new amphitheater to be named for “Bud Light” would set a precedent and impact other towns and cities across the State. The ABC Commission has provided space on their web site for public comments on this proposal. Please contact the ABC Commission and express your opposition by clicking here