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Thoughts from Cuckoo HQ
Nov 14

Why Do Some Venues Remove Bottle Caps From Your Drinks?

A lot of people wonder why some venues insist on removing the cap off your bottle when you buy a drink at an event. We've looked into it and we've even gotten answers from the venues themselves.

Differing perspectives

This is a very emotive one. People have some very strong feelings on this and many people are quite angry about having the tops of their bottles removed.

In discussions, we came up with a few perspectives:

  • They can be used as a missile, when full and with a cap on. These can be used to throw at the stage and among the crowd and can cause injuries. We've seen some nasty head gashes from plastic bottles thrown at gigs, in fairness.
  • Bottles which have the caps on represent more of a trip hazard too. Generally speaking if you stand on a bottle with no cap on it, then it will crumple under your foot. Standing on a bottle with the cap in place tends to be more likely to result in a trip or fall, as it stays cylindrical, rather than flattening under your weight.
  • Some people reckon venues do it so that customers are more likely to spill their drinks and, thus, more likely to buy MORE drink. 

Here's a thought though:

Surely if you're giving out bottles with no caps on them, then you're increasing the likelihood of liquid spillages, which in turn increases the likelihood of people slipping on spilled liquids?

It's all a question of risk.

The venues tell us. . . 

I emailed 6 venues around the country on this one and asked 3 simple questions of each:

  1. Are bottle caps removed at point of sale in your venue?
  2. If so, for what reason?
  3. If not, was it considered and what is the thinking behind not removing them?

I received replies from 3 of them and was actually surprised to. I made it clear in the email that I had no angle, no agenda and that I was simply looking to inform a blog post, but I was worried people would be wary. It seems at least 3 weren't anyway.

The nice people in the 3Arena responded very promptly, which I thought was nice. 

Interestingly (or not?) it wasn't signed off by anyone in particular but still, here's what they said:

"Yes bottle caps are removed from all bottles sold here. This is for health and safety reasons.

If a bottle is thrown on the ground with the lid still on and someone steps on it, they could cause injury to themselves, but if the lid is removed and a person stands on it the bottle will crush under the weight."

In fairness, this is one of the responses I expected.

I'm not sure if the 3Arena, in any of its previous incarnations, has had any claims as a result of an injury sustained in that way, but it doesn't surprise me that avoiding same is a motivation. 

Tom Gilshrist, Facilities Manager for Aramark in Croke Park responded on their behalf. He stated:

"The reason we remove the caps is for safety, so that if  the bottles are used as a missile and thrown onto the pitch or stands they will cause less harm if the liquid has spilled out."

I queried further to see and he noted that they 'haven't had an incident to date but you can't be too careful'.

He makes a valid point. We're all for anticipating issue and taking all reasonable precautions to avoid them. 

One of the most comprehensive responses we received was from Darren in Whelan's. He initially responded mainly in relation to alcoholic beverages being served in bottles without the caps. I was really asking more about soft drinks in 'venue' environments. I clarified that and Darren told me the same thinking applied, for them. He said:

". . . as a live music venue there are considerations given to the fact that sometimes people like to throw bottles. A bottle without a top will lose liquid and cause less damage than a full bottle. Also a bottle that can be resealed can be filled with other liquid (for example, "gentleman's liquid"), then resealed and thrown to disastrous consequences. Thankfully this hasn't been an issue since the 80s."

The bottom line

It's interesting to see the different thinking and motivations behind the same ultimate decision.

The over-riding consideration, for all parties, is the safety of people at the event

While it may be annoying to be given your bottle of water or whatever minus a cap, it's done for the greater good and to save people from being injured.

Tough to argue with that one. 

February 26, 2022, 07:07 PM

I just bring ny own caps now, anytime I get one I save it so I have a bag of 30-40. I take the cap-less bottle and immediately put my own cap on. Its the most rebellious thing I do nowadays.

December 25, 2021, 03:46 AM

Venues really need to rethink this in light of COVID. I went to a show last night & opted to get no drink rather than have an unknown person touching the top of my bottle where I'll be sipping from.

April 28, 2021, 12:07 AM

Put it this way, if your drinking water, your on drugs such as ecstasy & MDMA, your too loving to cause any harm. Simple.

February 17, 2021, 02:29 AM

I hate this. Plus, no lids/caps makes it easier for someone to slip something into my drink. I went to a concert with a friend and they did this. Now my overprotective parents won't let me back to the venue because it encourages date rape drugs.

Lynsey Holland
May 30, 2020, 07:00 PM

bottle caps are removed because water bottles can be used to harm others. the bottles can be used as a dangerous weapon if the cap remains on. Bottles can be thrown farther when the cap stays on a full bottle of water.

Jim Murphy
December 26, 2019, 11:06 PM

Oh... I thought it was so you don't throw the Caps at all the Yahoos who insist on standing up & getting in your way the entire Concert.

Jim Murphy
December 26, 2019, 10:59 PM

So then you accidentally spill Water on a big mean guy's Girlfriend & a big Fight happens, escalating onto a huge Riot, cause its happening all over the Crowd. Time to dust off & sneak in mah trusty Boda-Bag.

October 30, 2019, 01:13 AM

This annoys me - so I always take a couple of caps with me. They take the cap off and I just put one on. Doesn’t help with cans though.

September 11, 2019, 11:08 AM

personaly i think people should be able to open their own beer cans & not the vendor who wants to drink a beer after someone else’s hands have been on it not me

Your Mother
August 14, 2019, 05:12 AM

I agree with how ridiculous taking the caps is. All the safety issues are just bonuses to the fact that they sell more water bottles that way.

There is a SOLUTION though! - No more buying plastic bottles!!

August 13, 2019, 05:29 PM

I work at three local venues as a cashier/bartender. I am instructed to remove the lids by the venues. As a customer, I do not like this policy. As your vendor, I do not like this policy. However, I must comply to the rules if I am to work at these venues. It is VERY upsetting when customers belittle and even yell at me for removing the caps.

June 2, 2019, 12:08 AM

At the Orioles game now and the vendor insisted on opening my cans of beer but not the water????I told her I wanted unopened bottles and she said that can't be done. So I left the opened ones on the counter abd walked away

May 19, 2019, 11:27 PM

Went to rock concert last night in Houston. It was hot so we bought waters. The lids were removed. As I walked down the grassy hill to our seats with three open waters soiling out on me with every step, I questioned the reasoning in my head. I thought it was to avoid small litter in the venue. We sat down on a sloped hill and I tried setting my bottle up. It tipped over. I picked it up...held it and drank as needed. Extremely inconvenient! Thanks for the story. It filled in some seasonings.

March 22, 2019, 08:12 AM

Why don’t they sell cans at these venues instead of plastic bottles?

Vanessa Stewart
January 23, 2019, 03:32 AM

Yep I agree. Had my first experience with this last night. The reasons given don’t add up. We were told it’s so you can’t throw the caps not the bottles lol. Either way a half empty bottle of water thrown at the stage is going to gain momentum being out of balance for a really good shot. I’d have better luck throwing a half empty open bottle aim wise than a full one.

Meanwhile we were sitting on a hill with our open water bottles— one did spill. Wet pants for my friend and the person sitting directly in front of us as it seeped down the incline. Slippery grass I would expect as well.

Hadn’t thought about the drug situation. Good point considering there is signage in many venues warning NOT to leave your drink unattended. No signage warning against using items as missiles.

I call bullshit. Stupidest thing I’ve ever encountered.

December 24, 2018, 02:57 AM

This is maddening I have to go down 42 stairs to my seat cartrying open drinks I can’t hold the rail
I spill all the time it tips over under my seat
I just hate this policy and want it changed bs on the water bottle missle excuse

Diane Markham
November 19, 2018, 01:36 AM

Well last night was my first experience of paying 6.00 for a bottle of water after just having them make me throw my bottle I brought with me away. I figured I’d lose my water but when I purchased their water and noticed it didn’t have a cap I ask the lady where my cap was and she replied we have to keep all tops . I looked at her like that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.
My husband and I couldn’t figure this out other than must be some new kind of security issue going on now. When I read the reason that these venues are actually giving for this stupid decision I was just dumbfounded.
First time I stood up to clap for Joe Bonamassa’s amazing guitar playing the water flew out of the cup holder splashing the two girls behind me and left my whole row of people standing in spilt water!! Bottom line here, the people that would throw a bottle to try and injure someone will do it anyway! And meanwhile I wonder how many people will fall in water spills or have drugs slipped into their open bottle! I’ll be carrying a cap for my water when I go back . To me it’s all about the liability and insurance claims if someone gets hurt, what about slipping on spilt water??? Or being drugged and possibly God knows what if that happens.
How about this idea, punish the people that do this acts of violence and leave the rest of us alone.
Oh another thing, what about the long cylinders of liquor they sell and leave the caps on, they
don’t think they could be used as a missle???
Seriously an issue thy need to rethink.

August 24, 2018, 01:35 PM

So instead I had to hold my bottle of soda the whole time because I was afraid someone would slip something in it. With all the horror stories of drugs at concerts I was not very happy. I also paid $8.00 for that bottle.

August 20, 2018, 12:50 AM

Taking the tops off of bottles is even more of a hazard. It is pretty well known that drugs are prevalent during harder rock or metal live music events. I just went to a Shinedown/Godsmack concert a week ago and saw everything from weed to smack. An unsealed water bottle runs the risk of being tampered with and poses serious safety hazards. Roofies as well as other deliriates, narcotics, and depressants can be put in the bottles and given to a victim.

August 12, 2018, 05:27 PM

Live in retirement community----they just started it. Completely out of line. I agree with bringing our own caps but what if they take the bottles back into the kitchen and fill them with the dirty sink water and serve them again???? It could happen here. We don't throw them around-don't have the strength to.. Management ?????????

April 27, 2018, 05:39 AM

This is BS
There is way more likelihood to spill and slip n fall w an open bottle
Also dangerous to carry down stairs
Don’t treat us like children
Punish people that cause the harm not the innocents

April 8, 2018, 08:50 PM

I was told California was going to outlaw the tops and water bottles because of animal safety look into that

April 9, 2017, 03:15 AM

From now on I will just save my lids at home and take them with me. No one will even notice and I will have my lid.

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