Taco coupon

The average ticket price for a non-premium seat at an NBA game is $50. So why are some basketball fans in an uproar, over coupons that are worth a couple of bucks at most?

For years, a number of NBA teams have partnered with fast food chains to offer coupons to everyone in attendance, if the home team scores 100 points in a game. It gives the restaurant some publicity, and the fans a little something to cheer about, even if the game is a blowout.

The Portland Trail Blazers’ free fast food of choice has long been the Taco Bell chalupa – which gave rise to the entertaining chant, “Cha-lu-pa! Cha-lu-pa!” every time the team neared the century mark.

But this season, the chalupa was unceremoniously dumped, and was officially replaced a few weeks ago with a McDonald’s sausage egg McMuffin. The Trail Blazers announced they were ending their relationship with Taco Bell, and beginning a new five-year deal with McDonald’s. Henceforth, if the team reaches 100 points in a game, everyone in the crowd gets a coupon for a free McMuffin. As a result, the team encouraged fans to adopt a new chant: “Mick-e-Dees! Mick-e-Dees!”

Loyal chalupa-loving fans have refused to play along. In protest, many continue to chant “cha-lu-pa” – and are throwing away their McMuffin coupons.

Are McMuffins really that bad? Are chalupas really that good??

One Portland resident in particular is more disgusted with the change than most.

For two years, activist Jessie Sponberg made it his mission to collect unwanted chalupa coupons outside the arena, to donate to homeless youth. In all, he managed to redistribute 20,000 coupons to those in need. “I was stretching my moral fabric pretty thin,” he recalled, “to be giving kids such low quality food.” But it was better than nothing, he figured, and it also gave recipients access to a clean, safe restroom. When he heard the Taco Bell partnership was coming to an end, he found himself “laying in bed speculating on what fantastic new (hopefully local, hopefully healthy) companies the Blazers could pair up with.”

When he heard it was McDonald’s – he McQuit.

“Ding dong, the witch is dead! Oh wait, here’s comes an even worse witch,” he said, upon deciding to end his charitable endeavor. “I wouldn’t give a McMuffin to my worst enemy.”

Perhaps someone else could step up to take his place? Unlikely. Because adding insult to injury, while the chalupa coupons were valid for nearly a year, the McMuffin coupons expire a mere three days after they’re given out. That ends up “essentially preventing any large scale redistribution efforts,” Sponberg fumed. A team spokesman denied that the change had anything to do with the possibility that the coupons might end up in the hands of the homeless.

Now, a local company that operates food carts in Portland is offering a solution, both for the homeless and for fans of Mexican(ish) food. KOi Fusion says they’ll give a free taco to fans who turn in a valid McMuffin coupon. Then they’ll donate the coupons as quickly as possible before they expire. They, in turn, are encouraging fans to adopt a new chant of “Koi-Ta-cos! Koi-Ta-cos!”

That could make Trail Blazers games even noisier than usual, as fans simultaneously shout three different chants, depending on their culinary preference. And you thought NBA rivalries could be intense. Who knew that a competition over coupons could become the biggest rivalry of all?

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