U of M wants to sell beer at football games, if you can afford itby Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents this week takes up a proposal to sell alcohol at the new TCF Bank stadium, set to open on campus next September.
The change in policy would also affect Williams and Mariucci Arenas at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. The University of Minnesota wants to serve beer and wine during games, but only to patrons who pay for expensive seats and private suites. Some do not think that's fair.
St. Paul, Minn. — University of Minnesota President Roberts Bruininks is asking the board of regents to let the school apply for a state liquor license in order to serve beer and wine at the University's new football stadium.
But a game day beer, or glass of wine, would only be available to those willing to pay for expensive seats.
That could be one of the hundreds of premium season pass club seats ranging in price from $1,800 to $3,000 a year, or the 50-plus four person semi-private boxes that go for $10,000 a season. And for a drink in real style, there's always the 37 private suites being built into the stadium. They'll hold 19 people and cost $45,000 a year.
But under the plan, alcohol would not be available for fans in the rest of the 50,000 seat stadium.
University spokesman Dan Wolter says one reason is because of the thousands of underage students who attend the games. Making sure only those 21 and older were served would be impossible.
"This is a decision that's being made for the good of the campus. We think it's very important to monitor and control the consumption [of alcohol]. It is just to difficult to monitor in a broad open setting like that," said Wolter.
But Wolter says another reason the University wants to offer alcohol in the premium seats is because people expect it.
"It's a very important part of the business strategy, as well, because the suites and those other facilities, we're working very aggressively to make sure those are all sold out and that there are the kind of amenities and features that people are requiring," said Wolter.
Wolter says the University will make money from the sale of alcohol at games, but says it won't be "a huge profit."
The NCAA doesn't allow alcohol in stadiums during its championship events, but the policy for regular season events are left up to individual institutions.
The University of Maryland recently decided to allow alcohol in premium seating. School officials say it's a safe way to serve alcohol, while providing guests with a "wonderful game day experience," according to a statement in the Baltimore Sun.
Policies on who can buy alcohol and when they can consume it varies widely at stadiums across the country. Some schools ban alcohol altogether. Others allow drinking in tailgating sections of stadium parking lots, and some end those parties at kick off. Other stadiums sell booze during the game, but some limit how much patrons can buy.
Currently, anyone of drinking age attending a Gopher football game can buy a drink. That's because the games are being played off campus at the Metrodome.
That makes some students think the policy at the new TCF stadium is a bit unfair.
"If it's going to be a dry environment, it should be a dry environment for everyone," said Missy Gettel, a junior at the University of Minnesota.
The 21-year-old chemical engineering major says this issue is not a big concern to most students. But some think its unfair that only those paying for expensive seats will be able buy a drink in the Gophers new home.
"If the people in the premium boxes can, you know why not us," asked Gettel.
The University of Minnesota proposal would not only allow beer in the expensive seats at the new TCF Bank stadium, but also some pricey spots in Williams Arena, Mariucci Arena and during special events at the University of Minnesota Arboretum.
- Morning Edition, 11/13/2008, 7:25 a.m.