Cheers to dressing room beers City sports facility scores special liquor licence

Hockey and soccer players at a Winnipeg sports complex can now toast their victories or drown their sorrows after a game with a beer in their dressing room.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/08/2022 (275 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hockey and soccer players at a Winnipeg sports complex can now toast their victories or drown their sorrows after a game with a beer in their dressing room.

The Canlan Sports Complex on Ellice Avenue (formerly the Highlander) is the first sports facility in Manitoba to have its dressing rooms licensed for liquor service. Canlan will offer beer only.

“It is a smart marketing move,” said Cheryl Grossi, whose women’s soccer league uses the facility. “It’s a novel approach. You can go upstairs to the restaurant if you want, but if you are in a rush, you can get it in the dressing room and then leave.

“They may as well tap into this market.”

Lisa Hansen, a spokeswoman for the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba, confirmed Canlan is the first sports facility in the province to have its dressing rooms licensed for liquor. Canlan already has a dining room/lounge licence.

Hockey players at Canlan can have a few beers before or after taking the ice. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The licence, which was issued to Canlan in May, is the same one used by golf courses and curling rinks to sell alcoholic beverages, Hansen said.

“It’s a go,” said a pleased Bryan Vincent, general manager of the complex. “We have really just started it, but we have been asking for it for about a decade.

“I guess we wore them down,” he added with a chuckle.

Vincent said players can buy snacks and a maximum of two beers per person from a special cart that will visit dressing rooms, adding a drink limit was created because the rooms will have to be cleared to make way for the next set of athletes.

“We’ve been running this successfully in multiple buildings across the country and (the Winnipeg location) is the last one to be able to do it,” he said.

“This is just in the dressing rooms and it is only at the end of the games — not in between periods or on the bench. We’re doing a little test run so far, but it has been really good so far.”

It’s unlikely other local sports facility will follow suit.

Denis Van Laeken, general manager of Gateway Recreation Centre, said many indoor sports venues in Winnipeg are owned by the city.

Players can now stretch it out while enjoying a beer at Canlan. (John Woods / Winnnipeg Free Press files)

“No one can drink in city dressing rooms,” Van Laeken said. “The city already has rules on that. And I’m not sure I’d even want to go there.”

Skylight, a private indoor soccer facility in East St. Paul, also isn’t jumping on board.

“We wouldn’t consider it,” said Margaret Kinnarath, manager of the facility. “We are a really small facility and we would have to control it. We don’t sell booze anyway and we don’t have a liquor licence. We don’t want to be liable for anything.”

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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