A survey by The Associated Press of Power Five conference schools, as well as Notre Dame, has found that the majority of schools now sell alcohol in the public areas of their stadiums on game days.
According to the survey, 55 of the 69 schools surveyed, or 85 percent, now sell alcohol. Of the remaining schools, some sell alcoholic drinks in non-public areas of the venue such as suites, and a few others do not sell alcohol at all.
The University of Wisconsin does not sell alcohol to the general public at football games, but the school will begin alcohol sales at basketball and hockey games.
“If our fan experience metrics increase, then it certainly warrants a conversation,” Mitchell Pinta, Wisconsin’s deputy athletic director, told the AP. “`Hey, we did this at Kohl Center (and) LaBahn Arena. What would it take? What will it look like? Is that something we want to do at Camp Randall?’"
Adam Barry, a health behavior social scientist at Texas A&M, said after the Southeastern Conference allowed alcohol sales in 2019, the movement picked up steam.
“Since the SEC made that decision, other Power Five conferences followed suit, and we’ve seen an exponential rise,” Barry said.
The AP survey found that 19 schools that currently are in Power Five conferences began selling alcohol to the public during football games in 2019. Before that, just 20 such schools permitted the practice.
Since 2019, another 16 schools have come on board, including Michigan State, Kentucky and Stanford, all of which started selling booze in their football stadiums during the current season.
The University of Michigan did not make alcohol available at the Big House this fall and is currently waiting to see how things go at basketball and hockey games later this winter.
“We have to take slow steps in order to implement this because it hasn’t been a part of our culture,” athletic director Warde Manuel said. “This is a way to phase that in, see what the data says and then talk to the regents and the president again.”
University of Michigan Regent Paul Brown said he was not sure about the idea.
“One of the things that makes us unique is a collegiate atmosphere,” Brown said last month as the board approved applying for liquor licenses at the school’s football, basketball and hockey venues. “It is different than the pro sports that always serve alcohol. I think that difference is one thing that creates value for our institution. And so, I don’t want to destroy that value.”
At North Carolina, alcohol has helped the bottom line with about $4 million in sales. After having $320,213 in net sales during the 2019-20 athletic year, the school quadrupled that number last year and will see an increase again after this season.
“Athletic departments typically are not profitable,” Barry said. “So, selling alcohol has simply become a new revenue stream.”