U of M athletic department wants expanded alcohol sales

May 21, 2019 12:53 PM

The University of Minnesota is considering expanding the sale of alcohol at sporting events.

According to a memo sent by University President Eric Kaler to the Board of Regents, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) has requested the opportunity to begin selling alcohol to general seating areas at Williams Arena and 3M Arena at Mariucci.


Currently, alcohol is already sold at TCF Bank Stadium, and in premium seating spaces at Williams and Mariucci Arenas.

If approved, selling beer and wine is expected to improve attendance at Gophers sporting events.

The average attendance for football, hockey and basketball games combined is at a five-year low.

For the 2018-19 school year, the average attendance for those three sports together was 56,534.  That's down by 15,894 fans compared to the average attendance in 2015-16 (72,428).

The University of Minnesota has been struggling to get fans to attend games in recent years. Here is a closer look at attendance numbers in football, basketball and hockey over the past five years. 

"It's on us to earn people back," Athletic Director Mark Coyle said.  "We know that very clearly. I learned a long time ago when you point a finger, you have three pointing back at you. It's not (fans') problem that they're not buying tickets. It's our problem.  

"We've got to get creative on how we get people to come back."

Kaler's memo said ICA is also interested in starting alcohol sales in the Maturi Pavilion Club Room for the upcoming season, and has asked permission to sell to general seating areas in the future.

The memo continues, stating leadership from University Police, Risk Management, Office of Student Affairs and other university units support the proposal under the condition that ICA uses the same procedures and policies implemented at TCF Bank Stadium.

When asked Wednesday, some students said they were in favor of the proposal, while others said they opposed it.

"They have that right to do what they want if they're over 21," freshman Bryce Huber said. "I think it would be good because it would also drive up sales, drive up profit and be good for attendance as well."

"As a sober person who has never drank on campus, I'd say no," fellow freshman Rachel Mauch said. "I haven't seen anything positive come from anyone on campus drinking alcohol."

The one-time cost to make the necessary adjustments to facilities to allow for alcohol sales would be about $70,000, the ICA estimates. The memo states the projected annual revenue for sales in the arenas is $250,000, not including any adjustments to ticket sales.

Kaler's memo said the ICA believes the addition of alcohol sales would increase ticket sales, and adds that he strongly supports the ICA's request, given the "intensely competitive sports entertainment market" and the "positive results we have TCF Bank Stadium."

Kaler continues by saying he plans to bring a resolution authorizing alcohol sales in general seating areas at Williams Arena/Maturi Pavilion and 3M Arena at Mariucci up at the May Board of Regents meeting.

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