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MLB to reward designated drivers
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07/15/2004  6:50 PM ET
MLB to reward designated drivers
Partners with TEAM to give away World Series tickets
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
From left: Jeff Becker, president, the Beer Institute; TEAM Coalition executive director Jill Pepper; Dr. Jeffrey Runge, administrator, NHTSA; MLB President and COO Bob DuPuy; Sean Rooney, president, Stadiums and Arenas, ARAMARK concessionaires; and Denise Singer, customer marketing and sales, ESPN/ABC Sports. (Christie Cowles/MLB.com)
HOUSTON -- To celebrate the 75th All-Star Game and promote fan safety, Major League Baseball launched a designated driver promotion that rewards responsible fans with a chance to go to the 2004 World Series.

MLB is partnering with the TEAM (Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management) Coalition to launch the "Responsibility Has Its Rewards" program at all 30 ballparks. The promotion aims to increase awareness about the importance of responsible drinking, always buckling seatbelts and designating a sober driver when traveling to and from the ballpark.

"The program we are launching today is just one more example of how seriously we at Major League Baseball take alcohol management," said MLB President and COO Bob DuPuy. "And what's so great about it is that the promotion rewards fans for their responsible decisions."

The program encourages fans to sign up for their local team's designated driver program at the ballpark. Then each team selects one designated driver from all fans who signed up for the program. These 30 people will be eligible for the World Series ticket drawing. The two designated drivers whose teams advance to the Fall Classic will win two tickets each for the first home game of the Series.

The remaining 28 designated drivers whose teams do not advance to the World Series also have a chance to win a prize. One person will be selected among the 28 to win two tickets to the 2005 All-Star Game in Detroit.

DuPuy, MLB Senior Vice President Kevin Hallinan and TEAM Coalition Executive Director Jill Pepper gathered at a press conference on Tuesday before the All-Star Game to launch the promotion. Dr. Jeffrey Runge, administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Department of Transportation; Jeff Becker, president, the Beer Institute; Sean Rooney, president, Stadiums and Arenas, ARAMARK concessionaires; and Denise Singer, customer marketing and sales, ESPN/ABC Sports also attended to show support for the program.

"Fan safety and security is an extremely high priority for us in the ballparks, and alcohol management is one way we ensure that fans have a fun time in the ballpark and continue to come back time and time again," said DuPuy.

MLB and the TEAM Coalition are coordinating the league-wide effort, which is meant to highlight and support existing local designated driver programs at ballparks.

"'Responsibility Has Its Rewards' is proof of how TEAM's partners can work together successfully to benefit fans and highway safety -- collaboration is essential to the success of this initiative," said Pepper. "This public-private partnership is a great model of how to successfully reach target audiences with important traffic safety messages."

The TEAM Coalition is an alliance of professional sports, entertainment facilities, concessionaires, the beer industry, broadcasters, governmental traffic safety experts, and others working together to promote responsible drinking and positive fan behavior at sports and entertainment facilities.

NHTSA wanted to get involved with MLB because a large part of the sport's fan base is young adult men. Runge said it was important for his agency to connect with this audience due to the fact that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans 34 years old and younger.

"Baseball and NHTSA have a unique relationship based on a shared audience of adult men under the age of 34," he said. "We know from traffic statistics that this age group has the highest incidence of being involved in alcohol-related crashes and is less likely to wear safety belts. We also know from market research that this demographic is a primary fan-base of baseball."

Runge hopes to see the promotion will be an effective tool to reach young adults and decrease impaired driving.

"Having Major League Baseball as a partner in this, with the cache that they have in that community, is essential," he said. "For us, it's an extremely important partnership, particularly when we have the servers at the ballparks involved, the beer companies involved, ESPN as a partner -- all of a sudden now all the elements of moving that part of our culture toward good decision-making, not drinking and driving, and having a designated driver -- fall into place."

The "Responsibility Has Its Rewards" program will be promoted with signs and video messages in ballparks and on TV and radio through public service announcements.

Christie Cowles is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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