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Big Ten not warming to alcohol sales
ROSEMONT, Ill. - More and more college football programs are exploring beer sales. This week, Louisiana State announced that it is considering opening the tap. Texas also has breached the possibility.
West Virginia started selling beer at its home games in 2011. The reason to party? The school, which also eliminated passes to leave the stadium during games in ‘11, has seen a drop in alcohol-related arrests.
Minnesota has had alcohol sales for two years at TCF Bank Stadium. The test period for this ends in July, but school officials have said alcohol sales will continue.
UM athletics director Norwood Teague said from the Big Ten spring meetings Tuesday that alcohol incidents inside the stadium have dropped since sales started.
He believes the drop in alcohol arrests might be linked to fans not feeling as though they have to 'drink to a deadline.”
'It's gone pretty darn smooth,” Teague said. Alcohol sales begin an hour before kickoff at TCF Bank and are cut off at the end of halftime.
TCF Bank Stadium also restricts alcohol sales in one of its end zones. Teague said the line moved quickly, but 'you had to work at it.”
Texas is one of the most profitable college athletics departments in the nation. It began selling beer and wine during baseball, basketball and softball games. It is exploring alcohol sales for football next fall. Michigan, also an extremely profitable college sports enterprise, already has announced it won't allow alcohol sales inside Michigan Stadium.
Minnesota is the only Big Ten school that sells alcohol outside of premium seating areas. Iowa has allowed beer and wine sales in luxury and premium seating areas since 2006. Wisconsin, Illinois and Purdue also ell alcohol in premium seating areas.
In 2010, Iowa sold $111,000 in alcohol at Kinnick Stadium, which put the UI second among the four Big 10 schools that sold booze in stadium suites for that year.
Iowa athletics directory Gary Barta has said as late as 2011 that Iowa didn't have plans expand alcohol sales.
The consensus of Big Ten athletics directors polled Tuesday - not the complete group - was 'no” to alcohol sales inside football stadiums.
'I don't think so,” Northwestern athletics directory Jim Phillips said. 'It's an important topic. We're all trying to educate our students on college campuses about drinking responsibly. We have a responsibility to do that. Those are going to be independent decisions on each of our campuses, but at Northwestern, I can't see that day.”
Penn State's Beaver Stadium seats 107,282 fans. PSU athletics director Dave Joyner is conscious of what that might do to the commute home.
'You can't negate it,” Joyner said. 'You could have a problem just stepping down the stairs with alcohol consumption. The more opportunities you have, the more people, the more people driving, hopefully, there smart and not everybody is. We're very conscious from the alcohol standpoint.”
In 2012, Iowa governor Terry Branstad came down against alcohol sales to the general public at Kinnick.
'(The UI has) had a lot of drinking problems anyway and obviously you know there's a lot of beer consumed in the parking lots before the games, so I don't know that you need to be selling it in the stadium,” the governor said.
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