Tonawanda News

January 20, 2013

Beware where you buy your beer at arena

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — A handful of thoughts to start off the week in news, sports and whatever else strikes my fancy:

I have not missed watching a presidential inauguration speech live since I  was 10. What can I say, I was a political junkie at an early age.

Politics aside, I’m always in awe of the pageantry and civility on display. There’s something amazing watching two political parties come together to affirm the people’s decision and peacefully hand over (or return it, in this case) to the people’s president.

I’m also a lover of rhetoric and there’s no higher calling for political speechwriters than an inaugural address — particularly a second inaugural.

When I sit down to watch it, I’ll find myself thinking about Lincoln’s second inaugural, arguably the greatest speech he ever gave.

Today we think of inaugural addresses and lengthy, wordy affairs. Lincoln summed up the entirety of the Civil War, still raging upon his re-election, in just 701 words. That’s about the same number of words in this column.

Find me a more rousing sentiment than this:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

If Obama has something in him that comes even close to a line like that, I’ll be mightily impressed.

•••

While we’re talking politics, I read with interest the Republican plan to raise the debt ceiling enough to continue negotiating for another three months. 

It’s a welcome relief, though in accordance with any decision in Washington, it’s only good for so long.

Obama has refused to negotiate over the debt ceiling issue. He is correct. The debt ceiling isn’t something that should be negotiated. It isn’t about increasing the amount of money we owe. It’s about paying the tab Congress has already ordered up. Yes, the same Congress that now refuses to pay the bill. 

It reminds me of the drunk who plops down on a barstool all day, then at last call looks at his tab and says to the bartender, “who the heck ordered all these drinks!?”

We ran up the bill so now we have to pay it. This is not negotiable. 

What is negotiable — and what I hope both sides do negotiate — is how to avoid running up these tabs in the future. 

But paying the bill you owe can’t be a precondition on what money we’re going to spend moving forward.

•••

Finally, a brief word on today’s Buffalo Sabres season opener, only three-and-a-half months late thanks to the lockout.

As I said, I’ll be in attendance. If you’re going as well, a simple request.

If you’re like me or most of the other 19,070 in attendance (they have revised the arena’s capacity to include the Harbor Club and some luxury box seats so it’s now more than the familiar 18,690 we’ve heard for years), at some point you’ll order a beer.

Lord knows there are plenty of places in First Niagara Center to do it.

The concession stands built into the arena are operated by Delaware North, a Buffalo-based stadium concessions firm owned by Jeremy Jacobs — who also owns the Boston Bruins.

Jacobs was one of the hardline owners that pushed the lockout to the point it reached.

Don’t buy your beer, peanuts or pop from him.

Instead, find one of the independent beer vendors — they’re the guys (and girls) generally standing by themselves in the black and white striped shirts. These guys work on contract and only make money based on sales. For most it isn’t a full-time job, but I’m certain all the home games they missed have hurt the pocketbook.

Let’s buy their beer instead. And if you’re game, toss your favored beer guy a couple extra bucks to say hello after an extended off season. This way you can give your money to someone as happy as most fans the game is back — and not one of the guys responsible for the way the lockout happened in the first place.

Game on and go Sabres!

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Contact him at eric.duvall@tonawanda-news.com.