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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

The University of Richmond will start selling beer to the general public at men's basketball games this season, the school's vice president and director of athletics, John Hardt, said Wednesday morning, pending approval from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.

None of Virginia's other 13 Division I schools has sold beer to the general public at basketball games, and none has announced plans to do so.

Sale of beer and wine at intercollegiate events has become a rapidly growing trend in response to the requests of some fans, and as a way to increase attendance. Often, NCAA institutions have added beer to concession options, especially at football stadiums, because it's a relatively easy, fresh revenue stream.

That is not why Richmond plans to do so, according to Hardt.

"At this point, it's just to help support Spider athletics, generally," said Hardt. "We think it will have a positive impact on our revenue, however our primary motivation for implementing beer sales is to enhance the fan experience."

He added that projections indicate "a modest amount of revenue will be generated by beer sales." Hardt did not elaborate on the revenue projection. "This is not a big revenue driver," he said.

UR has no plans to extend beer sales to women's basketball games at this time, or to Robins Stadium, home of Spiders football, said Hardt.

Richmond's existing ABC license allows for beer sales at other school functions, including performing arts at Modlin Center.

Some of Virginia's Division I schools, including UR, have made beer and wine available in club areas, or suites, at their venues in past seasons. But beer has never been sold throughout a Virginia Division I arena, as will be the case at the Spiders' Robins Center.

Richmond has hosted craft beer pregame events that have been popular in areas adjacent to the Robins Center arena.

That is part of the reason UR explored the potential of beer sales during games, according to Hardt, who started at Richmond in January.

While selling beer, Hardt said UR is "sensitive to wanting to maintain a real positive fan and family atmosphere."

Five of the other 13 Atlantic 10 Conference members sell beer at their on-campus basketball facilities. ACC member Wake Forest, a school similar to Richmond, began selling beer at basketball games and football games two years ago.

The Richmond Flying Squirrels sell beer and wine at The Diamond, as is the case with professional teams at all levels, in all sports.

In April, the NCAA announced it eliminated restrictions on alcohol sales at Division I championship events.

That move came two years after a pilot program that permitted alcohol sales at the College World Series, the FCS championship game and at wrestling, lacrosse, ice hockey and volleyball championships.

In May of 2015, former UR Athletic Director Keith Gill told The Times-Dispatch that selling beer at the Robins Center "is not something that we've talked about or that is under consideration in any way. ... It's just not part of who we are right now."

joconnor@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6233@RTDjohnoconnor

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October 11, 2018
 
 
 

 

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