Montreal bar owners sue to shut down Bell Centre's awesome Canadiens viewing parties

The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the possibility of a New York Rangers sweep with their Game 3 win Thursday night. They also ensured that the Game 4 screening at the Bell Centre will be a bit livelier than if they were down 0-3 in the series. The Canadiens' home area will be a madhouse, packed full of fans cheering on the bleu blanc et rouge from afar.

The ambience is fantastic. The community feel is unbeatable. You've got to love that.

Unless, of course, you're a Montreal bar owner. Then you're annoyed, because potential visitors to your establishment are busy getting their cheer on -- and their beers -- somewhere else.

Knowing they can't compete with the atmosphere inside the Bell Centre, a group of bar owners are trying to even the score by shutting off the taps. Owners like Peter Sergakis, the head of the Union des tenanciers de bar du Québec, are taking the arena to court, claiming the Bell Centre is in violation of their liquor license.

From the Montreal Gazette:

Sergakis, who owns several bars, including the Station des Sports downtown, said his interpretation of Quebec’s liquor laws says the Bell Centre is in violation of its alcohol permit. He said the arena is only licensed to sell beer when it holds a live event, and not when it shows one on television.

The bar owners are challenging the Bell Centre in court, saying broadcasting Sunday night’s game and selling beer is a violation of its liquor licence.

“They’re selling beer and they’re making profit off the beer,” he said. “Because they’re giving the money to charity, it doesn’t give them the right to sell beer without being allowed to do that.”

Sergakis claims he wouldn't have a problem if the Bell Centre were offering pop and juice, which makes sense, because then it would be a lame party, and he and his fellow owners might be able to compete.

According to the Quebec liquor board, they received complaints from this group about the Round 2 Game 7 viewing party, but they basically chose to ignore them.

This time around, they can't however, as the bar owners have filed a court petition demanding a hearing. The liquor board is now obliged to listen to their transparent attempt to give their viewing party a chance to compete with the Bell Centre's.

Unfortunately, that court hearing might not be for weeks -- maybe well after the Canadiens are done. But if the bar owners win, and the Canadiens go on a run next year, they can rest assured in knowing that people will be flocking to the bars runs by the miserable old money-grubbers who ruined the viewing parties at the Bell Centre.

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