Iowa second in Big 10 for stadium alcohol sales during home games

Over 22,000 drinks sold at Kinnick last year

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa sold $111,000 in alcohol at Kinnick Stadium during the 2010 football season, which puts the UI second among the four Big 10 schools that sell booze in stadium suites.

While the University of Wisconsin sold nearly $160,000 in alcohol at its stadium in 2010 — about 45 percent more than Iowa — Badger and Hawkeye fans drank virtually the same number of drinks at home games last season.

The average drink cost at Iowa games was $5, compared with $5.75 at Wisconsin games, according to sales figures provided by both schools as part of an open records request.

“If they have liquor, that can change the mix — no pun intended,” said David Grady, UI associate vice president and dean of students, who oversees University Catering.

Wisconsin, which sold 27,791 drinks over seven games in 2010, sells liquor in addition to beer and wine. Iowa, which sold 22,290 drinks at seven games, sells only beer, wine and flavored malt beverages.

Two other Big 10 schools — Illinois and Purdue — sell alcohol in premium seats at home football games. Purdue sold $40,050 in beer and wine over seven home games in 2010.

During Illinois’ six home games, the school sold $88,840 in alcohol. In Illinois’ Colonnade Club, they served 2,624 mixed drinks (ranging from $5 to $7 each) for a total of $14,257. The stadium drink menu includes top-shelf liquors, like Grey Goose and Absolut vodkas, as well as Crown Royal and Jack Daniel’s for whiskey drinkers.

When comparing the alcohol sales of the four Big 10 stadiums by the capacities of the areas that serve booze, Wisconsin still comes out on top with an average of $9.80 per seat, per game. Iowa sold $8.33 per seat, per game; Illinois $4; and Purdue, $2.47 over the course of the 2010 season.

Iowa State University sold $78,672 in beer and wine over seven home games in 2010 at Jack Trice Stadium. This comes to a per game, per seat average of $6.77.

A growing number of universities across the country are considering selling alcohol stadiumwide, not just in luxury suites and seating areas.

West Virginia University will start selling booze this fall in concession stands around Milan Puskar Stadium. Athletic Director Oliver Luck has billed the move as an attempt to control alcohol consumption, but it is also expected to increase revenue by up to $1 million.

A bill debated in the Minnesota Legislature last year would have given the University of Minnesota authority to decide whether alcohol should be sold in premium seating at TCF Bank football stadium.

Minnesota law says alcohol should be served throughout the stadium or not at all. UM officials have said they wanted to offer booze in luxury suites, but since they can’t limit sales to those areas, the whole stadium will remain dry.

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta doesn’t expect Iowa to expand alcohol sales at Kinnick.

“The current policy allowing the sale of beer and wine in the Kinnick Stadium suites has been in place and working well since 2006,” Barta said via email. “We don’t have any plans to adjust the policy or expand sales to other parts of the stadium.”

The UI approved plans to sell alcohol in Kinnick’s 46 luxury boxes and Brechler Press Box in 2006. Suites for the president, athletics department and foundation do not allow alcohol.

All beer is poured in clear cups, and fans can buy only two drinks at a time. Suite owners are the only ones who can order beverages, and last call for alcohol comes at the end of the third quarter.

Beer was king at Iowa games last season, accounting for more than 90 percent of the sales. Iowa fans bought nearly 1,500 mini bottles of wine for a total $7,500. Luxury seat wine drinkers preferred chardonnay over cabernet 6-to-1. The UI sold 504 12-ounce bottles of flavored malt beverages for $2,270.

Although the UI sold $110,961 in alcohol in the 2010 season, the UI Athletics Department got only about $29,000 of that after paying expenses, spokesman Steve Roe said. “Out of an annual budget of $71 million, it’s really not very significant for us,” he said.