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Fans suing ECHL arena over beer cup controversy

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

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Minor league professional sports have to do a lot of things to attract fans to their buildings. Though some rely on cheesy promotions and specialty uniforms, the one thing all minor league franchises have to draw fans no matter where they are: Beer.

That's why there has been a bit of an uproar coming out of Boise, Idaho, home of the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads, this week.

Steelheads fans Heath Forsey and Gwen Gibbs were the ones to spot the discrepency at CenturyLink Arena. The pair noticed when pouring a full beer from the cups labeled as "large" into one that was labeled as "regular", there was no overflow. The large beer costs $7, the regular costs $4. It's the shape of the cups that is different, not the actual size.

Paying $7 for a cup that holds the same amount of beer that costs $4 is enough to rile up the most casual of fans. Forsey and Gibbs took the cups home and tested things further just to be sure, then posted the video above on YouTube. It very quickly went viral. The video, uploaded to YouTube on March 9, has more than 935,000 views as of this posting.

In response to the video, Eric Trapp, president of the Steelheads and CenturyLink Arena, issued a statement on the team's Facebook page.

“It was recently brought to our attention that the amount of beer that fits in our large (20-oz) cups also fits in our regular (16-oz) cups. The differentiation in the size of the two cups is too small. To correct that problem, we're purchasing new cups for the large beers that will hold 24 ounces, instead of 20, for the remainder of this season to provide better value to our fans. As we do every offseason, we'll evaluate our entire concessions menu for next season over the summer.”

Trapp doesn't admit that the cups hold almost exactly the same amount, but does say they'll order new cups. That's not going to be good enough for a lot of people, who feel they've been ripped off.

Do you smell lawsuit? That's probably because a group of four fans have already filed one.

Here are the details from the AP via the Idaho Statesmen:

The lawsuit, filed in Boise's 4th District Court on Tuesday, contends that Block 22 LLC, which does business as CenturyLink Arena, defrauded customers by fooling them into thinking that a tall, narrow cup of beer sold for $7 was substantially bigger than a shorter, wider cup sold for $4.

Mike Campbell with Block 22 said he hadn't yet seen the lawsuit and so couldn't comment.

Brady Peck, Michele Bonds and William and Brittany Graham are asking for damages exceeding $10,000.

Now you can say people sue for everything these days, but it's a legitimate ripoff. Even if it wasn't intentional, fans were taken advantage of and now will find it hard to trust that they're being treated fairly as a paying customer. This group probably has a good case.

For the Steelheads, this is going to be a rather large self-made headache.

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