College Stadiums Are Selling Alcohol Now — What Does It Mean?
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College Stadiums Are Selling Alcohol Now — What Does It Mean?

20 years ago, the thought of selling alcohol inside a collegiate sports venue was nonexistent. Higher-ups were fine with the idea of fans getting their fill before game time, but during the games? Sorry, No. However, that’s no longer the case.

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash.

The cold, hard truth is that many major Universities struggle producing major revenue and therefore deal with hard budget cuts. While the NCAA doesn’t struggle to bring in cash, many prominent athletic programs do, and some are turning to alcohol sales as one remedy to the issue. As a matter of fact, the mighty Southeastern Conference (SEC) passed a vote in May to lift a ban on stadium-wide alcohol sales. Of course, not every school will be immediately taking advantage of the vote for reasons that we’ll explain, but some have jumped on the opportunity.

Here we’ll take a look at some of the positives — and, of course, some of the negatives — to selling alcohol within college sporting venues. As a matter of fact, one University recently chose to make the jump and even agreed to start selling alcohol on everybody’s favorite app, FanFood! Continue reading to find out who 🍻.


According to Forbes, ten years ago there were less than a dozen big-time football programs who were permitted to sell alcohol in their stadiums. Today, with the addition of some SEC teams and Big Ten teams like Penn State and Illinois, alcohol is making its move inside the gates.


Simply put, there are two reasons why we’re seeing this trend: first is the need to get people off of their couch and into the stadium, and the second is the hope for added revenue.

“Main reason we did it: try to get more people in the stadium,” Marty Kaufmann, an athletic administrator with the University of Illinois, told Sports Illustrated. “A lot of people have tickets in their pockets in the tailgating area and they don’t come in. Maybe now they say, ‘Let’s go in and get a beer.’”


Illinois will be selling alcohol during football games for the first time this upcoming season, therefore it’s hard to know right now how it might impact their attendance. Still, many are confident that it will only have a positive effect. Whichever way you view tailgating and whether it means you’ll enter a venue, many will have a ticket in their pocket and opt to stay put, watching the game with a case full of cold beer and large, conveniently portable TV. With the selling of alcohol, those same fans can have their cake (or, in this case, alcohol) and eat (drink) it too.


Watch the game in person, have a beer.


Amazingly enough, even with the popularity of college football in America, attendance numbers have consistently dipped. According to USA Today, attendance has declined at games in seven of the last eight seasons. Among FBS programs, the average attendance was 41,856, the lowest since 1996. It’s hard to pinpoint just how much of a boost the sale of alcohol has on attendance, but it’s hard to imagine the downward trend continuing if you include an element — alcohol — that is so crucial (for many) to the gameday experience.

As for the idea of added revenue, much of it will vary on a school-by-school basis. Not every University actually owns the venue they play their games in. When this is the case, a portion of the revenue earned off of alcohol sales will go to the owner. Along with that, another portion will likely go to the vendor and this doesn’t mention the possible need of extra security that might be needed, because, as we’re all familiar with, alcohol can make fans a little bit rowdy.


As was mentioned in a Penn Live article, the University Texas generated $1.8 million in point-of-sale alcohol revenue during the 2015 season. You’d imagine that number is only climbing for the Longhorns and they’re a great example of the sale of alcohol bearing fruit. Then again, their number of $1.8M might be a lot higher than other schools due what was previously mentioned — the school is the sole owner of both the football and basketball venues.


From a safety perspective, there have been numbers suggesting that making alcohol for sale in-stadium has decreased the amount of incidents. According to the SI article previously mentioned, both Ohio State and Oregon saw a 65 and 49 percent drop in incidents, respectively. When fans know alcohol is available inside of an event, they’re less likely to drink in excess before entering and equally likely to refrain from illegally bringing alcohol into the venue.


So how about that school that agreed to start selling alcohol through FanFood?


A little over a month ago, a bill was passed making beer and wine sales legal during campus sporting events throughout the University of North Carolina school system. Yes, that means as you watch Roy Williams prowl court-side at the Dean E. Smith Center, you’ll get to do it with a beer in hand. Even better, you’ll have the opportunity to get that drink delivered right to you thanks to a new agreement between UNC and FanFood.


When ordering, fans will need to check a box within the FanFood app confirming they are indeed of legal age. On top of that, once the order is either picked up or delivered, they will be required to show one government-issued ID per beer (with a limit of two beverages per order) — other wines and spirits will not be available for mobile purchase. Of course, UNC prioritizes serving in a controlled environment, and this authentication process should help.


By selling through FanFood, the Tar Heels will take pressure off of in-venue kiosks, reduce lines and give fans an opportunity to stay where they want to be — in their seats. On top of that, it should help UNC chase what most Universities are hoping for with the legalization of in-venue alcohol sales: additional revenue.


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