Rugby, San Diego & The Price of Beer.

200902161815.jpgI was grateful that my long-time Kiwi friend and Rugby aficionado Stefano invited me to attend the IRB World Series USA Sevens – the largest Rugby even in North America. I joined him several years ago at what then was my first even Rugby event. As live team spors goes, Rugby garners about as much airtime on the sports channels as say does Cricket. Admittedly, while I don’t fully understand the rules of Rugby, I don’t think I’ll ever grasp the concept of Cricket. At least with Rugby you know when the team crosses the goal line, there’s a score involved.

But here in San Diego it was an international affair. And since the last time I saw the USA Sevens, the game, or at least the crowd and teams seem a bit closer to me. There’s some sort of a bond because I visited many of the countries these teams originate including Argentina, Uruguay, Kenya, South Africa and others. This is truly an international sport. And for two days fans from all over the world and from our own melting pot show up to cheer their team — their country.

The USA Sevens is a two-day event that this year took place at Petco Park in downtown San Diego. This was the first time I’d been to the new home of the San Diego Padres, and to the USA Sevens. I was amazed how neat and tightly packed the stadium fits into San Diego’s burgeoning downtown district. Awash with lofts, new hotels and the ongoing gentrification of what San Diego has successfully branded as the Gas Lamp Quarter, the convention center and the redeveloped bay front complete with the floating aircraft museum aboard the massive USS Midway — yes the aircraft carrier that played an integral park in defeating Japanese in the Pacific during World War II — Petco Park is just one more notch in San Diego’s successful transition from its hey day status as a city heavily dependent on defense contractor business.

But that was the 70’s and 80’s when the cold war meant business. Today San Diego with its Sorrento Valley tech center and North County bio-pharma incubation scene, could be the poster-city for rebranding. Even the homeless people have been upgraded from carboard boxes to a neat display of pop-up tents that would make a REI merchandiser jealous, all neatly lined up on the sidewalk along and underpass of the 5 Freeway. But maybe soon San Diego and other urban areas that were quick to develop and still sport hundreds of vacancies for both those tony lefts and the retail space crowding the street level. Time will tell.

Hey but so far San Diego seemingly has faired well. Even the major sports teams here have done fairly well the last few years.

Of course, all this development and redevelopment is not without cost.

So when we decided to grab a beer, we hopped out to the first freestanding kiosk on the club level — one that only sold beverages. One 12oz bottle of Steinlager: $9.00. Now I must admit, I haven’t been to a pro-sports stadium event in some time. And while the  food and beverages at these venues are always priced a bit out of the park, this seemed a bit excessive. But we’re a captive audience and, in these economic times, our thirst could be tempered by price.

So when Stefan wanted to get some food we sauntered about thirty feet past the beer kiosk to a food stand. That’s when I noticed they were selling that same bottle of New Zealand lager, Steinlager. But here the price was less. Same bottle: $7.50. Hmmmm. Let’s see. Walk a mere 30 feet and you save 20%, more or less. I don’t know if the pricing for such snacks is determined by the kinda of game being played on the field. But since the stadium was at only a fraction of its capacity, we never saw a line at any of the vendors on the club level. Whose marketing this stuff anyway?

And that begs the question: Why isn’t Rugby more popular in US sports? Perhaps this American-bred rugby player’s discussion on the subject might interest you.


USA Makes a Run for a goal against Argentina in the match deciding the final teams to compete for the Cup.


Yes. The USA does have fanatical Rugby fans.


The Fiji team goes for a tackle against one of the best teams in the world: The New Zealand All Blacks.


This young fan expresses love for her favorite team: Australia.

But perhaps during a heated 7th inning post-season battle, paying $1.50 more for a bottle of beer could be worth saving the time it took to walk the additional 60 feet (30 feet each way). I don’t know. But I did find this pricing irregularity rather strange.

In the end, Argentina took away the Rugby USA Sevens cup by defeating England 19-14. Though the USA had a chance at that cup. But in a previous round Argentina knocked the USA chances of taking a stab at England in the final match. But Argentina won. The score? Interestingly: 19-14.


The beer vendor here using the calculator to add up the cost of a three Steinlagers and change from $40. Note the cost of the Steinlager: $9. And just beond you see another food stand. Yes. And there a scant 30 feet you can buy that same Steinlaber for $7.50.


My buddy Paul flashes the cost of a Steinlager from where I shot this picture. Note the sign just above his left shoulder as your looking at him.


I still want to know the story behind Western Metal Supply Company here at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres in downtown San Diego.


As for the price difference in Steinlagers, this guy suggested we buy from him for the next round!.