At sporting events this year, fans of South Dakota’s two NCAA Division I schools will find more on tap — it’s on tap, like in beer.
The South Dakota Board of Regents approved a June resolution allowing the state’s six public universities to expand their liquor sales to general admission seats and contest areas. Each school decides to sell alcohol and/or expand it.
The University of South Dakota (USD) at Vermillion and South Dakota State University (SDSU) at Brookings are increasing their liquor sales. Currently, both Division I schools sell or serve alcohol in premium lodges or lodges.
USD officials began talks shortly after the Regents’ policy change, sporting director David Herbster said.
“As a Division I university, USD is well positioned to provide a premier sports experience for fans in South Dakota and our region,” he said. “It’s important to provide these fans with the same opportunities and amenities they would find at any other sports venue.”
Both universities are working with Sodexo, their new on-campus food service provider, which holds the liquor license on each campus and will train its staff to sell alcohol.
USD will sell beer and wine, while SDSU will sell beer and seltzer water. Both schools will offer alcohol-free zones for those with this seat preference, and they will maintain tailgating opportunities.
SHU officials have spoken with other schools about their management of increased sales, Herbster said.
“A lot of them have different vendors handling alcohol sales, so their experiences are all different,” he said. “Sodexo has experience selling alcohol on other campuses across the country, and we appreciate the knowledge they bring as we navigate this transition.”
The rules are as varied as the facilities, according to Jason Hove, SDSU’s assistant athletic director and director of sports information.
“Alcohol policies vary from league to league and a lot depends on venue management,” he said. “For example, the board that oversees the management of the Fargodome just approved beer sales for NDSU (North Dakota State University) football games for the first time.”
The USD will begin selling this fall, but has made a timing adjustment, chair Sheila Gestring said. “Sodexo was unable to obtain the proper municipal permit in time for our first volleyball tournament, but is on track for everything else this year,” she said.
At SDSU, expanded sales also begin this fall, Hove said.
“Liquor sales will begin with our home football opener on Sept. 10 against UC Davis,” he said.
“We are looking to be able to start sales for events at Frost Arena – volleyball, basketball, wrestling – either in late September or early October. Details are still being processed as of the exact date.
The increased sales could be expanded to other venues on campus for indoor track, baseball and softball, Hove said. However, the university will not sell alcohol at women’s soccer games, as they are played at a city-run off-campus facility.
USD will implement alcohol sales expansion at the DakotaDome and Sanford Coyote Sports Center (SCSC), Gestring said. These events host soccer, volleyball, and men’s and women’s basketball matches.
“Whenever possible, sales will take place at existing concession stands,” she said. “There will be a line for alcohol and food purchases and, at a minimum, a line for food and non-alcoholic beverage purchases. The exception to this is the east side of the DakotaDome, where separate kiosks will be set up in the lobby for beer and wine purchases.
SHU facilities will offer other designated areas, Gestring said. Non-alcoholic sections will be indicated when purchasing tickets online and on the ticket upon receipt.
“Serve Safely” training for all employees includes recognition of fake IDs, prevention of serving minors, signs of intoxication, and handling disorderly and/or intoxicated customers. A valid photo ID will be required to purchase alcoholic beverages.
At USD, sales will be available no earlier than one hour before the event and will end at designated times depending on the sport or event.
The SDSU will adopt similar policies, according to a press release.
“In order to purchase alcohol, all fans – regardless of age – must present valid ID at designated stations in tailgating areas or stadium lobbies to receive a wristband and stamp for the game of the day,” the statement read.
“Board policy requires that every fan carry their ID card with them at all times, as age verification will take place at outlets and beyond.”
SDSU Stadium’s gates open 90 minutes before kickoff, with liquor sales – consisting only of beer and seltzer – beginning an hour before kickoff and ending at the end of the third quarter in accordance with Board of Regents policy.
Two sections of Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium have been designated as alcohol-free zones: Section 207 in the West Stand and Section 123 on the East Side.
All transactions at liquor kiosks in the stadium lobbies will be processed by credit card only. For SDSU students, payment through campus meal plans will not be accepted for alcohol sales.
There will be no SDSU-related liquor sales in tailgating areas. Fans can continue to bring their beverages of choice – with the exception of hard liquor – as mandated by existing tailgating policies.
Alcohol sales for events at Frost Arena are expected to begin later in the fall.
Both universities want to offer expanded liquor sales while respecting the need to separate those sales and areas, according to SDSU President Barry Dunn.
“The requirement is that we don’t have it in the same outlet as popcorn and hot dogs. They must have a separate place,” he said.
The two universities will use their alcohol sales commission for scholarships and for outreach programs to promote legal and responsible drinking, the two presidents said.
Studies show that on-site alcohol sales promote responsible drinking, Dunn said. “It has a huge impact on reducing binge drinking before games and at tailgates. You don’t need to drink fast,” he said.
At USD, Herbster received a good response to the changed policy.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “Fans across the state and region have expressed excitement about taking advantage of additional amenities during their gaming experience, and we anticipate these new offerings will improve game attendance.”
Follow @RDockendorf on Twitter.