More and more college football programs are looking to add beer sales as a way to balance athletic-department budgets, as the stigma against booze in the university stands is rapidly dissipating.
It used to be that only one major university — Colorado State — openly sold beer to all game attendees, with many programs offering beer and wine in suites and stadium clubs. The feeling was that beer and wine sales were not part of the wholesome football experience pushed by university athletic directors.
But with alcohol sales growing more common in collegiate venues, more universities are looking at alcohol sales to raise gameday revenues — and that includes the University of Wyoming, where football is a major draw. There are six schools alone in the Mountain West selling alcohol, and large programs like Ohio State, Wake Forest, Pitt and Penn State are adding beer, wine and more to the mix. And the University of Wyoming may be added to the mix in 2017 and beyond. While beer is sold in Wildcatter suites, most fans at War Memorial Stadium or the Arena-Auditorium have no access to alcohol. That could change, says athletic director Tom Burman:
“The national picture has changed quite a bit,” Burman said. “… We’ve been doing research, tracking what’s going on nationally, and the number of schools that have added beer sales to the general admission area, the general access areas in football, in all sporting events, on campus, has increased dramatically.”…
“Our competition is doing it,” Burman said. “We at least have to take a look at it. We are looking at every revenue stream very closely and every expense line item very closely, and we owe it to the citizenry of Wyoming to figure out how to generate more dollars.”
In addition to dollars and cents, of course, there is the question of safety. At West Virginia, which began in-stadium beer sales in 2011, gameday arrests and safety issues have reportedly decreased. Many argue that allowing in-game alcohol sales lowers fans’ need to binge drink prior to entering the stadium.
Again, nothing is imminent for 2016. But expect further discussions in Laramie and other major university cities down the line.
Image courtesy University of Wyoming.