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Ralph Engelstad Arena lowers its beer size, but increases the price per ounce

GRAND FORKS -- The Ralph Engelstad Arena has lowered its largest serving size of beer effective immediately, but beer will now actually cost more per ounce even after a price decrease.

In a Wednesday press release, General Manager Jody Hodgson said the change is "in an attempt to more appropriately align our operation plans with our stated alcohol service objectives."

Hodgson told the Herald lowering the largest serving size of draft beer from 32 ounces to 24 ounces would help in that attempt as well as "our goal to promote responsible alcohol consumption."

The size change will apply to all events in the arena, he said. Accompanying that change is a price reduction: A large domestic draft beer, now 24 ounces, will cost $6 instead of $6.75. Large premium draft beers were also reduced from $7.25 to $6.50.

Price increase

The change means beer will actually cost more per ounce. Under the old price of a 32-ounce domestic beer, each ounce cost about $.21, but changing it to 24 ounces for $6 means it will now cost $.25.

That seems like a small increase, but if the new size cost the same per ounce as the old size, a 24-ounce domestic beer would cost $5.06 -- about $1 less than the new $6 price.

It's a similar situation for the 24-ounce premium beer, which will cost $6.50 but would have been priced at $5.44 if it was the same cost per ounce as the 32-ounce size.

Another way of looking at it: Domestic beer will now cost $3 per 12-ounce serving rather than $2.53, and the price of premium beer per 12-ounce serving will rise from $2.72 to $3.25.

Hodgson said it's "a fair question" to wonder why the lowered price is actually an increase, but said it has its reasons.

"We believe that the size and the price point are aligned well with a responsible alcohol plan," he said. "We don't seek to incentivize excessive consumption."

The arena's small size of draft beer, 16 ounces, will still be sold. Small domestic beers will remain the same price at $4.50, while small premium beers are decreasing in price from $5.25 to $5.

Hodgson said one of the drivers of the size change is a response to "what's happening in our industry from a risk management standpoint," adding many places have stopped serving a 32-ounce beer "in response to alcohol-related incidents in public facilities."

He pointed out the NFL has prohibited any serving size of more than 24 ounces, as did a national concession organization. Hodgson said the changes will help improve the situation for everyone.

"I think it's a proactive step and a step in the right direction," he said. "We believe this change will enhance the overall event experience and improve guest safety for all of our fans."