Son of Ten Cent Beer Night

Cleveland does not have a great history with free or discount beer.

In 1974, during a June contest pitting the hometown Indians against the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Stadium played host to one of the most famous promotions in sports history. As its name implies, “Ten Cent Beer Night” allowed baseball fans to purchase beers for just a dime each.1 Of course, in the interests of safety, customers were limited to an eminently reasonable six beers per order. They were also…uh…apparently not limited at all as to the number of orders they could make throughout the game.

While this deal represented a massive discount off the regular 65¢ price, similar discounts had been offered in the past without incident. In this case, however, a contentious game a week earlier in Texas led to an enormous fan response when the two teams met again in Cleveland. Sports radio DJs and the media whipped the city into a frenzy leading up to the rematch, and massive alcohol consumption did nothing to quell their emotions.

The end result was exactly what you’d expect. Multiple fans ran onto the field, which eventually led to an all-out riot. Despite coming back to tie the score in the bottom of the ninth, the game had to be forfeited by Cleveland when it couldn’t be safely resumed. The pictures are rather amazing, and you can find all sorts of oral histories that are worth reading as well. Suffice it to say that after this night, the Cleveland Indians organization drastically curtailed their beer-related promotions.

Cut to 2018, when Budweiser has placed so-called “Victory Fridges” all around the city of Cleveland. These fridges are stocked with Bud Light, but they’re all currently locked. If/when the Cleveland Browns win a regular season football game, a signal will be sent to the internet-connected appliances and they’ll unlock, dispensing free beer. This seems like a very, very bad idea.2 The fridges are installed at both bars where fans will already be drinking throughout the game, as well as the Brown’s FirstEnergy Stadium itself.

A victory fridge, as yet unopened.

Of course, it’s possible or perhaps even likely that the Browns will never win again. After a 1-15 season in 2016, they went a perfect 0-16 last year. Still, they’ll probably manage to luck into a win via some fluke or another. If they don’t, well, just how secure can these fridges be? If the Browns lose all the way through their final home game on December 23rd, some disappointed fan is sure to smash open the front glass.

Win or lose, the presence of these victory fridges means Cleveland should probably be prepared for some chaos. I won’t be surprised if drunken Clevelanders find a way to set the Cuyahoga River on fire again.


  1. Some may note that the beers were just 8 ounces of low-point 3.2% alcohol by weight (or 4% ABV) beer, which is slightly below average. Clearly, that can still add up.↩︎

  2. Approximately the only thing cheaper than ten cent beer is free beer.↩︎