While I personally am not a beer drinker, and prefer a glass of wine, I wouldn’t be caught ordering a glass of wine at a sporting event (aside from being in a club or suite, the stands are just not the place for that)! I will say that I have become a big proponent of introducing beer sales in football stadiums. Some of the arguments against selling are certainly compelling, whether it be due to cultural norms in the university’s given region, or the fear of increased negative incidences related to intoxication, at the end of the day, I still see more upside.
One such example of how a university can carefully manage this, was seen when SMU reintroduced beer sales in their basketball facility. By implementing standards, such as only selling one beer per ID per concession visit, they were able to maintain control of the consumption to a degree. Currently, only 21 of all FBS programs sell beer in their stadiums. I understand that many think this is a fairly small sample size with which to judge the success (or lack of) implementing beer sales. Yet looking at those 21 schools, some of them even saw a DECREASE in alcohol-related incidences when they allowed the sale of beer in a controlled environment.
To further support proponents of in-stadium beer sales, many reports have come out recently stating how much money can be made by introducing beer sales at football games. An estimated $500,000 in direct revenue from product sales, dependent upon the school could be added by selling beer. The potential for sponsorship dollars is substantial as well. Often times, many food and beverage producers will ear mark sponsorship dollars as a direct correlation to actual product placement and/or sales in a venue. I have seen these set up as percentage rebate type programs, but can also be negotiated as a set dollar figure. Either way, there is certainly opportunity to capitalize in that regard.
Given the changing landscape of college athletics, there are many elements which play into this subject. One of the most important of which, in my opinion, being the likelihood that athletic departments’ expenses will be jumping up significantly if (when) some of the current issues are addressed, like cost of attendance and long term health care coverage. My fear as those changes are made, is that the smaller sports in the athletic departments will suffer. It is no secret that cutting programs would be an option for many schools as they look to find the money to put towards any new initiatives mandated by the NCAA. As a former NCAA gymnast, this resonates, and I would hate to see programs like the one I was a part of cut due to financial constraints, especially if every other alternative had not been attempted first.
Frankly, in my opinion, if universities are really that concerned about alcohol-related incidences, I am pretty confident the sale of $9 beers inside the stadium will have little added negative effect. Policing tailgating would be a better means to mitigate that problem, which would come at a cost that could be covered by the revenue from sales inside the stadium. Plus, the argument that allowing beer-drinking amongst students, many of whom are underage, is troublesome, I ask; how many students have $9 to shell out for one beer, let alone many? I sure didn’t!