More college stadiums serving alcohol this season

AKRON -- As college football season gets underway, more fans are able to grab a drink not just before the game, but during the game too.

Over 20 campus football stadiums across the country made the move to sell alcohol at their sporting events. In fact, the number of stadiums serving adult beverages has more than doubled over the last five years.

"If that's one more amenity that people say, hey we're also going to be able to come and tailgate and come into the stadium, be able to continue to eat and drink and enjoy our time together and also cheer on the Zips', then we think that's a really positive step forward," University of Akron Athletic Director Tom Wistrcill said.

This is the third season Zips fans can buy alcohol during home football games. Wistrcill says the change has actually helped improve fan behavior. "We've found that since we moved it to sales inside the stadium, we've actually had a reduction in the issues we've had that we consider alcohol related."

Beyond generating revenue in concessions, Wistrcill says it's about creating a richer "fan experience" at the stadiums. "Just one more thing to get fans to come to games. We're fighting the 50-inch TV that got the high definition picture for college football now," Wistrcill explains.

National College Sports consultant Jeff Schemmel, President of College Sports Solutions, says many schools who don't have lucrative TV deals like Ohio State are considering changing their stadiums' alcohol policies. "An institution that puts 100,000 people into their stadium every Saturday afternoon would generate a substantial amount of revenue, certainly in the hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars."

Here in Ohio, we seem to have more than our share of universities bellying up to the bar. In addition to the University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, Kent State and the universities of Toledo and Cincinnati all serve alcohol in their football stadiums.

Miami University is one Ohio school that has no intention of serving during games anytime soon. In an email, Deputy Athletic Director Mark Rountree said, "Miami University strives to create a family and fan friendly environment for our community and the best venue possible for our athletes. The university feels we can maintain this environment by NOT selling alcohol during events."

Some wonder if universities profiting off alcohol sales at football games sends the right message. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is among groups opposed to the idea. "We know that there's going to be a lot of under 21's that are going to be there without their parents. I guess you would have to decide is the money worth the outcome of the lives that are going to be affected," said Julie Leggett, Executive Director of the MADD Northeast Ohio office.

Ultimately whatever gets fans out of the bars and their homes, and into stadium seats is the key. Today, more stadiums are finding that the key is a cold beverage.

Akron's InfoCision Stadium has a two-drink limit for each ticket holder, but they say they make ten of thousands of dollars in alcohol sales every season.

In fact, it's been so successful, they are now considering offering drinks at other sporting events as well.


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