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TAKE 2: Would alcohol sales help solve attendance issue?

Published: Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson and sports reporter Steve Nitz spend their days covering the area’s sports scene. Occasionally, they give their viewpoints on those local sports. In this installment of their Take 2 column, they discuss the sale of alcohol in college football stadiums.

Jacobson: We’re just one month away from football season starting with practices starting next week. But before we start discussing things going on between the hashmarks, there was some big Mid-American Conference news off the field. 

Toledo announced that the university received a permit to sell alcohol at football and basketball home games. The Rockets become the fourth team in the MAC, following Bowling Green, Akron and Kent State, to allow alcohol sales at major athletic events. What are your thoughts on alcohol being sold at college football games? 

Nitz: Let’s face it, alcohol is a huge part of the college football culture. Just walk by the field on the east side of Huskie Stadium before any home game, you’ll see people chugging and shotgunning beers, and the occasional beer bong, as well. People are going to drink at college football games, and as someone who has attended games as a student and alum, I’ve witnessed fans illegally bring their own cans of beer into Huskie Stadium.

The past few years, the attendance, or lack thereof, at Huskie Stadium has been a big issue with fans. There’s no doubt in my mind that if fans could buy alcohol at games, more people would show up. How many more? It’s tough to say, but there always is going to be a crowd who would rather watch the game at a bar – where alcohol is available.

Overall, I think it would be a good move to follow the lead of the schools you mentioned. Beer is flowing at every NFL stadium. Why shouldn’t it be the same on Saturdays, where alcohol sales could bring revenue for the university?

Jacobson: While I do agree that beer is a big part of tailgating and football culture, I don’t think it needs to be brought into the stadiums. 

Many have said that the revenues generated by liquor sales will help athletic departments, but with only five home games this year and likely no more than six in any future season, I doubt the benefit would be as large for NIU. 

Plus, the obvious safety concerns for players and even other fans are enough for me to say that it should be confined to the pre- and post-game festivities.  

Nitz: You certainly make a valid point. 

I can’t figure out why NIU’s home football attendance has been so disappointing. Sure, there are certain factors you can point to (lack of marquee opponents, midweek games, etc.), but it should be better. I just think if alcohol were available, it would put more people in the seats and bring in revenue for the university on top of that.

Jacobson: It’s hard to believe, but I agree that selling alcohol could boost attendance even if just a little. Toledo is planning to sell a 16-ounce beer for $6 each, not exactly a happy-hour special, but just the availability of beer likely would sway a few people to move from the bars to the bleachers. 

Do you think it happens any time soon in DeKalb? 

Nitz: Who knows, I doubt Toledo fans were expecting to buy beer this season before the news hit. Like a lot of things, there are pros and cons. With the possibility of higher attendance and extra revenue for the university, selling alcohol at athletic events probably always will be in the minds of athletic deparments around the country.

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