For the first time, the University of Iowa athletics department will allow alcohol sales to fans 21 and older during athletic events, starting this fall at Kinnick Stadium.
Coming off what is considered by some to be the most successful athletic year in school history, but one unpopulated by fans due to the pandemic, enhancing the fan experience will be a top priority in 2021-22. That said, Iowa has been planning for the introduction of alcohol for years.
"We've been talking about this for the last five or six years," said Iowa athletic director Gary Barta, as reported by HawkCentral.com. "We're about safe, legal and responsible. So how do we do it safely? Obviously if people are underage, that would be illegal. The goal is to have a great time, have fun and be safe about it.
"We want to make sure we're ready for it and do it the right way. This seems to be a good year to get it rolling. We're going to try it, see what we learn from it and any errors or things we need to improve upon we'll do it heading into next year."
According to HawkCentral, Iowa will incur a large investment fee up front, and usual concession splits are 50/50 (school gets half, concessions company Aramark gets half). Based on projections comparing home capacity in Iowa City with alcohol sales rates at other schools in the country (eight Big Ten Conference schools now sell alcohol at athletic events), Iowa's net sales could fall between $1 million to $1.4 million in year one.
Revenue was not the main driver behind the introduction alcohol, according to Barta. "At the end of the day, it's about fan experience," he said. "Our fans come to the game and want to enjoy a beer or two or a glass of wine. It's now available."
In addition to the 50/50 concessions split, 30 percent of net alcohol sales “will be directed toward research-based initiatives developed and supported by” the UI Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee, which was formed in 2009 to decrease high-risk and binge drinking. according to the school's original press release.
Iowa opens its football season Sept. 4 against Indiana.