College sports embracing beer sales

Alcohol sales at US college sports fixtures are becoming increasingly common as universities look to boost revenues.

beer footballAs reported by the New York Times, few colleges allow beer and wine sales for attendees at football and basketball games.

Common at the national level such as the NFL, NHL and NBA alcohol has been kept out of the stands at college games but is now on the rise.

Part of the reason is financial. Like the national leagues, college sports are big business in the US. Michigan State recently hired former San Francisco 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh, with an annual salary of US$5 million.

As the Times reported: “In an era of seven-figure coaching salaries and demands for more resources for athletes, universities are always looking for ways to increase revenue.”

In 2010 West Virginia became the first team in the “Big 12 Conference” to begin selling alcohol at its football games while Texas and Maryland have announced trial programmes starting this season.

Minnesota, Colorado, Wake Forest, Miami, Syracuse and Louisville were some of the first colleges to allow beer sales some years ago.

West Virginia’s athletic director, Shane Lyons, said recently that beer revenues from last year topped US$500,000.

Some are cautious about the swing either because they do not wish to see college football (a slightly different version of the game) become a “mini-NFL” or over fears of over-consumption. West Virginia’s president, Gordon Gee, is a Mormon and admitted to being “conflicted” when he approved alcohol sales at the behest of the board of governors.

Serious binge drinking is a problem on some college campuses and last year a student at West Virginia died of alcohol poisoning. He was later found to have had a blood-alcohol content six times the legal limit.

On the other hand, the college’s police department reported a “sharp decline” in incident reports and arrests during home games between 2010 and 2014.

“I feel like we’ve been a pilot program — people have seen it work,” said Lyons,

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