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Minnesota, Oklahoma Latest to Expand Alcohol Sales

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The University of Minnesota and the University of Oklahoma are the latest to join the ranks of schools looking to expand alcohol sales at sporting events.

According to the Pioneer Press, UM will begin offering alcohol to all fans, not just those in premium seats, at all basketball and men’s hockey games.

The athletic department estimates the change will create about $250,000 in additional revenue annually.

“When I do events across the state, we hear feedback from fans that they feel like this would enhance the fan experience,” athletics director Mark Coyle said.

Around $70,000 was needed in upfront costs to ensure the facilities were ready for alcohol sales.

Beer and wine sales would end at the start of the second half of basketball games and the third period for hockey.

Regent Michael Hsu said he thinks offering alcohol during events may actually cut down on problem behavior, as he thinks prohibition causes some to drink heavily prior to entering the stadium.

The monetary benefits of alcohol sales are still being weighed across the NCAA by those schools that have expanded their offerings at athletics events. 

When the University of Oklahoma expanded its alcohol sales, some claimed it was just a money grab. OU athletic director Joe Castiglione says that hasn’t been the case. According to Castiglione, who said Friday that $80,000 was the approximate net revenue following a recent seven-month pilot program for alcohol sales.

That estimate comes on the same day that the OU Board of Regents passed president James Gallogy’s recommendation to authorize the permanent sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages at athletic events and facilities beginning in 2019.

“This idea wasn’t driven by some type of revenue windfall that we might make if we open it up. That’s not the impetus behind this,” Castiglione told the Tulsa World. “It was really hearing from fans — quite a few fans — wanting an opportunity that they get in other venues for football, basketball, baseball, whatever it is, throughout the state of Oklahoma and in places they travel." 

Revenue from alcohol sales will be allocated for facilities, capital projects and programs for the benefit of the patrons and the fan experience.

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