116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Beer made for good coffee talk in Iowa last week.
Iowa’s athletics department announced it was expanding beer and wine sales at four of its athletic facilities, most notably Kinnick Stadium and Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Meaning, it was opening them up to the great unwashed instead of just the jewelry-rattling donors in the stadium suites.
“While there is an opportunity for increased revenue, this decision was based on enhancing the fan experience and providing an additional amenity to our fans,” said Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta.
Yes, of course. It’s all about giving, not taking. What can the Hawkeyes do for you, not you for them.
That doesn’t explain why all Kinnick’s grandstand planks that offer so little personal space haven’t been replaced by individual seats. How do you people sit like that for a few hours?
The UI news release announcing beer (and wine) for the masses also contained this:
“Thirty percent of net alcohol sales will be directed toward research-based initiatives developed and supported by the UI Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee, formed in 2009 to decrease high-risk drinking and the related harmful consequences.”
Just how selling alcoholic beverages in mass quantities is actually supportive of an Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee may be a mystery, but who are we to question such noble intentions?
Look, the reality of beer in Kinnick is it isn’t all that big a deal. I’ve been to Big Ten venues where beer was sold, and it didn’t seem to have any effect on the crowd’s behavior.
For one thing, there are limits of how much you can buy at a time. For another, the drink isn’t cheap. Stadium prices and the lines in which to wait to pay them may discourage getting sloshed more than anything else at sporting events.
From a safe distance, it may be entertaining to watch the drinker with the middle seat at Kinnick crawl over several bodies while trying not to spill. Whether that’s the kind of entertainment that enhances the spilled-upon fan’s experience, however, is arguable.
Beer and college football are a generations-old marriage, really. Have you ever wondered just how many people would attend games at Kinnick if tailgating with alcohol on campus grounds were altogether forbidden and thoroughly policed?
You could have had plenty of personal space in the stadium, because the crowds would have been a lot smaller. That doesn’t make it any different from concerts or comedy clubs, restaurants or rodeos.
Without fans being allowed to drink close to the stadium, it’s fewer customers and less money for the athletics department. That’s the bottom line, because Stone Cold Beer said so.
Sure, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to sit in Kinnick for three or more hours without alcohol over the years. Although, wouldn’t you love to have the price of a stadium beer for every time someone has smuggled booze into an Iowa game? You’d have enough money to fill Kinnick with Dom Pérignon.
It’s interesting how the need to feed the beast slowly and surely changes standards. Selling alcohol at college venues seemed unthinkable for so long. Now? Hey, they need the cash. It’s like — pardon the term — an addiction.
Having regular-season college games on any day but Saturday? It went from being taboo to something that’s now taken for granted.
Iowa has never wanted and still doesn’t want night games, not with its coliseum in a residential area. Feel good about waving to the kids in the hospital across the street after the first quarter, but don’t expect them to get any sleep until the bellowing crowd has gone away late into the night.
But hey, you can’t lap up tens of millions of TV money each year without your TV overlords telling you when to play your games.
Ultimately, everyone always seems to adapt to these changes. It’s just football, not anything truly serious. Even if the head coach is easily the university’s highest-paid employee.
Now, don’t forget to tip your beer vendors this fall. If you can afford the tickets and the beer, you can share your game-day budget with someone besides the school’s millionaires.
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