Should FAU sell beer in the stadium? Here are two opposing sides.

beer for everyone

Lulu Ramadan, Editor-in-Chief [Kiki Baxter | Managing Editor]
Lulu Ramadan, Editor-in-Chief [Kiki Baxter | Managing Editor]

College football and beer go hand in hand. College and beer go hand in hand.

Earlier this week, FAU Student Body President Michael Cepeda leaked on Facebook that FAU was amping up it’s beer game starting in the fall with the new football season. They will only allow beer sales in designated sections of the stadium during games and no wine or liquor sales in the stadium.

Thing is, FAU’s lovely stadium was built in 2011 and cost $70 million. We still owe $45 million on that stadium as of May 2014.

West Virginia University started selling beer at home games in 2011 and generated $750,000 in revenue in the 2012 season.

We shouldn’t stop there. We should sell beer at basketball games too. South Methodist University generated six figures in revenue when they sold beer and wine in their last season, USA Today reports.

Not only that, we can set up beer sponsorships like they did at West Virginia. Now, they’re generating sponsorship revenue by selling Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and the Morgantown Brewing Co. brand beers, according to Sports Business Daily. In February 2013, FAU sold the naming rights to the stadium to the GEO Group, a for-profit prison company with loads of legal baggage. Backlash from student and the local community eventually led to the $6 million deal being rescinded.

Selling tickets to games just isn’t cutting it anymore. Beer sales can help.”

We did it for the money to pay off the stadium. So, why can’t we do the same now?

The biggest argument against beer sales in college athletic settings is that most students are underage. Well, FAU’s not your typical college. Of our 30,000 students, only 30 percent of them are under 21 as of spring 2014, according to data collected by FAU’s Institutional Effectiveness Analysis.

By limiting beer sales to only certain section, you limit the people that will attend. Let me explain.

Students 21 and over can sit in these designated sections, purchase and drink their beer only there, according to Media Relations Director Lisa Metcalf.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the development. Problem is I’m underage — and I don’t mean my drinking problem. All of my friends ages 21 and over will be segregated in the wonderful land of beer and college football hype, while I’m stuck at the kid’s table so to speak.

I’m all for safety. (FAU plans to have wristbands for drinkers and people checking IDs regularly, according to Metcalf.) But if you’re going to do this, go all the way. Not only allow beer sales in certain sections, but allow liquor, wine AND beer all over the stadium. Allow the 20 year olds and 21 year old to mingle, while still giving the 21 year olds the opportunity to buy a cold brewski during the game.

We’re going to check wristbands and have bouncers all over the stadium anyway.

According to CBS Sports, only 11 of the 120 Division 1 schools sell beer in their on-campus stadiums. Twenty-one sell beer if you count off-campus stadiums (like University of Miami plays in Sun Life Stadium, home to the Miami Dolphin. And yes, they sell beer at college games).

The student body president leaked the news of beer at football games in a Facebook post during a campaign to encourage students to come to the first football game. Let’s face it, the team’s not going to fill those seats. Let’s give beer a try.

Beer for noone
 

Wesley Wright, Sports Editor [Michelle Friswell | Editor]
Wesley Wright, Sports Editor [Michelle Friswell | Editor]

FAU student body president Michael Cepeda used Facebook to break the news that FAU would allow beer drinking at the home football games this year.

“Reason 327 to come to FAU’s football games: Anyone can now buy beer while in the stadium. You do not need to sit in the premier section to be able to do this. Yes, that includes the student section,” said the now-deleted Facebook status.

An email to FAU Media Relations revealed that the school had no plans to allow beer in the confines that $70 million stadium that FAU still owes around 45 million dollars on.

Just one day late, Media Relations Director Lisa Metcalf revealed that Cepeda was partly correct. Beer would be available, she said, in designated spots this fall. Not in the student section though.

And I’m don’t think it should be available to anyone.

I would be remiss if I did not mention this: Yes, the football program would benefit from the revenue that would come from beer sales this fall.

I’ll assume that most of our adult spectators wouldn’t mind guzzling beer at a game this fall. It wasn’t too long ago that being passed out in your seat was a better alternative than seeing the product on the field.

This is an awfully slippery slope, however.

What the school will gain in beer revenue, it will lose in security, and in ambiance.”

I don’t want any alcohol in the FAU stadium this fall, unless you are inside a suite (those people can already buy beer anyway when they pay for premiere tickets).
“But Wesley, professional teams sell alcohol. How different can it really be?”

Families will more readily spend money for a college football game than they will for a NFL one — maybe because most colleges don’t sell beer in their stadiums. Sober fans provide an opportunity for small children to enjoy themselves.

Beer means vomiting in and around seats and aisles. Beer means fights over seating arrangements. Beer means incessant cursing and uncomfortable spectators. Not exactly the type of environment that you’d spend your entertainment dollar on if you had children to appease.

In his introductory press conference, new head football coach Charlie Partridge mentioned that a recurring motif in his program would be “family.”

“What I want to create on Saturdays in this stadium right behind us, is an atmosphere that welcomes families into the stadium,” Patridge says around ten and a half minutes in.

I’m not sure where exactly inebriated spectators fall within that plan.

The attendance at FAU football games is paltry at best. In five home games last season, attendance averaged out to 14,551 fans a game, just under half the capacity of the stadium.

It may increase with the offering of beer, but if drunkenness is an issue that could affect the enjoyment of others, beer may not be worth offering.

Even more pertinent is the issue of drunk driving. Of the 30,000 students enrolled at FAU, only 12 percent live on-campus, which means a majority of our students could be headed home while under the influence.

There is a real possibility that an of-age student comes to the stadium, drinks, leaves the game while still drunk, then hits and kills someone on his way to wherever.

Does a few thousand dollars in revenue trump that?

The same day the UP posted a story about beer sales at football games, news came that a former FAU student saw his life come to a horrifying end at the hands of a drunk driver.

That makes me uncomfortable. Beer will undoubtedly lead to car accidents. The person on the other end of that accident could be a brother, friend, a classmate, or it could be you or me.

A significant portion of the people at FAU football games are students — 30 percent of them are below the legal drinking of 21, according to FAU’s Institutional Effectiveness and Analysis.

All it takes is one missed carding and an underage drinker for a potential of a lawsuit to come. And that could cost FAU more than it may make in beer revenue.

If the decision to sell beer to all stadium patrons comes to down to money, the practical decision is clear. Alcohol will bring a badly-needed additional revenue stream, but I’m not so sure that the pros outweigh the cons.