Baseball: Budweiser and Blue Jays rally against Drinking and Driving

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TORONTO (CNW) -- Today, Budweiser launches the sports world's most successful designated driver program in Canada at the Toronto Blue Jays homeopener.  Budweiser Good Sport encourages fans to volunteer as designated drivers to and from the stadium, and helps to increase awareness of fan responsibility in partnership with stadium operators, team owners and concessionaires.

Good Sport partners with teams in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Soccer and is featured in nearly 100 major league stadiums in the U.S., including 21 MLB teams.

"During the 2011 season, nearly 300,000 fans signed up at Major League Baseball games to be a designated driver as part of the Budweiser Good Sport program," said Charlie Angelakos, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Labatt Breweries of Canada.  "We expect about 10,000 fans to participate in Toronto.  When you think that there are more than 2,800 alcohol-related vehicle deaths a year in Canada, this initiative alone could help us greatly in the fight against drinking and driving, which remains a major concern for Canadians."

Through highly visible sign-up carts, signage in stadium, and public service announcements, Good Sport educates fans at stadiums about the importance of having a designated driver. Experience has shown that the visibility of Good Sport materials not only increases participation, but also contributes to overall awareness of moderation.  In fact, program participation has grown at about 7 per cent per year since it was introduced. The message of the program, which has been recognized and praised by politicians in many U.S. cities, is simple: "When you're a Good Sport, everybody wins."

"The Toronto Blue Jays are excited to partner with Budweiser in launching the Good Sport program for the first time in Canada. Major League Baseball is committed to responsible fan behaviour both during games and on the drive home," said Paul Beeston, President and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre. "With approximately 55 per cent of Blue Jays' fans driving to the game, the Good Sport program will certainly make an impact in decreasing potential drinking and driving incidences through fan education."

Awareness resulting from a variety of designated driver and other programs has contributed to a continued and consistent decrease in the number of fatalities involving a drinking driver in Canada.

According to the Ottawa-based Traffic Injury Research Foundation, Canadians continue to regard drinking and driving as a priority concern, ranking it a close second among all societal issues and first among all road safety issues. Between 1995 and 2009, the number of Canadians who died in motor vehicle crashes involving a drinking driver declined 44.9 per cent and this trend appears to be continuing. Moreover, 27 per cent of Canadians report they have personally acted as a designated driver at least once in the past 30 days.

About the Budweiser "Good Sport" Program

Good Sport has been a success because of its team approach - the team, the facility, concessionaires, the police and Budweiser. All stakeholders are committed to positively promoting responsible alcohol consumption, and encouraging fans to step up and become designated drivers for their family and friends.

Good Sport includes "We. I.D." communication tools for effective legal drinking age identification, complementing existing "Smart Serve" server training assisted by the Toronto Police Service.

The centerpiece of Good Sport is the Designated Driver Program.  At every Blue Jays home game, Budweiser and the Blue Jays will host sign-up booths for designated drivers.  Located at the 100 and 500 levels of the Rogers Centre, fans can sign a pledge that they will refrain from drinking during the game and will provide a safe ride home to the family and friends with them.

In return for signing the Good Sport pledge, designated drivers will receive a free coupon for a soft drink and be entered into a draw to win a Good Sport gift package. Winners will be announced in the 6th inning of every Blue Jays home game. Throughout the game, the Good Sport Designated Driver Program will be featured on Jumbotron public address announcements.

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