For many Australian sports fans, buying beer at sporting venues is an exercise in subjugation. For starters, the alcohol content for those in general admission is often capped at mid-strength – a typically penal restriction aimed at civilising the riff-raff. Yet the true indignity arrives right at the dreaded moment the attendant rings up the till. By the time you have handed over the cost of a round, you’ve just paid for the better part of a three-course meal at a decent restaurant.
Fans at the 2014 football World Cup in Brazil were able to buy a local Brahma beer for as little as R$10 (A$3.97). Yet not only are the Germans football world champions, but their elite Bundesliga leads the way in beer prices. The average cost of a beer in the league is less than €4 (A$5.59).
Elsewhere in Europe, a pint of beer costs on average £3.99 (A$6.76) at English Premier League venues. Yet fans in Australia can be held to ransom if they want to enjoy a beer at the footy or cricket.
Ahead of this year’s third cricket Test, the Adelaide Oval was criticised for planning to raise its already high price of beer to A$9.20. Following public pressure prices were held at A$8.90 (for 425ml).
The price of beer at different sporting stadiums in Australia (2015/2016)
Different serving sizes can often mask higher prices, making it hard for a fan to tell if a $5.40 Carlton Draught at the MCG is better value than paying $8 for a Carlton Mid at the SCG. Stadiums may boast that their beer is cheaper than another – but such claims can be misleading, and fans can be exploited.
The global picture
Exchange rates make global price comparisons even more difficult and leave fans at the mercy of stadium operators. But, surprisingly, when beer sizes and prices are standardised, Australian venues don’t fare too badly.
Although Australian stadiums don’t measure up to some of their European counterparts, beer is generally cheaper here than at North American venues. Ahead of the pack in this beer swindle are the Philadelphia Eagles, which charge US$8.50 (A$11.50) for a 12oz (355ml) beer.
The food and drink served at stadiums have long been a point of angst for sport-mad Australians. Research shows fans are not satisfied with the price, quality and service of this element of the fan experience. They are frustrated by the limited options of weak, poor-quality beer at stadiums.
Overseas stadiums leave many Australian venues far behind when it comes to choice. Australian fans may drink large quantities of beer at games, but they are increasingly looking for higher-quality offerings – and craft beer in particular. Craft beer consumption is increasing in Australia, but the trend is yet to infiltrate Australian sport.