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Rutgers University this year will attempt to mitigate the known risks associated with serving alcohol in general seating areas while expanding beer and wine sales at sporting events as a way of increasing revenue.

While Rutgers already serves beer in the Audi Club at football games, the 2019 season will be the first time beer and wine will available for purchase to fans in general-seating areas throughout HighPoint.com Stadium. Expanded alcohol sales will also be seen in general seating areas at Rutgers Athletic Center, Yurack Field, as well as baseball and softball games, according to NJ Advance Media.

Rutgers officials have studied the pros and cons of selling alcohol inside their 52,454-seat football stadium and in their 8,000-seat basketball arena in Piscataway.

"This decision was the result of a year-long review of the experience and data from across the college landscape,'' Rutgers Athletics Director Pat Hobbs said in a statement.

In 2018, 51 of the 129 Division I FBS programs sold alcohol in general seating areas, including Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue. Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State only sell alcohol in premium-seating areas.

Officials acknowledge that controlled alcohol sales, such as in only club seating areas, has led to a decrease in game day arrests.

"Universities have seen a dramatic drop in alcohol related incidents on game day by providing a controlled environment for beer and wine sales,'' Hobbs said. "We will work closely with RUPD to achieve similar results at Rutgers.' 

Rutgers University chief of police Kenneth Cop also acknowledged the drop incidents.

"Data from peer institutions shows a correlation between a decrease in alcohol-related incidents when a venue provides a controlled environment for beer and wine sales,” Rutgers University Chief of Police Kenneth Cop said in a statement. “The RUPD will continue to be vigorous in working with Rutgers Athletics to promote public safety at athletic events and expects attendees to respect all applicable laws to ensure a safe and enjoyable game day experience.”

As part of the plan, Rutgers will mandate a two-alcoholic beverage limit per person on every transaction and alcohol sales will be cut-off at a pre-determined time (likely at the end of the third quarter) at football games.

And while the risk of more alcohol-related incidents is real, so is the potential increase in revenue.

Rutgers officials told NJ Advance Media the net revenue from alcohol sales will serve to offset scholarship costs, which exceed $16 million annually in an athletics department with more than 600 athletes.

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.