Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series on rising alcohol sales at college sporting events.
VERMILLION — As part of his Game Day experience, Dan Kramer enjoyed something offered for the first time — liquor sold in the DakotaDome’s general seating areas.
The Yankton man enjoyed a beer during the University of South Dakota football team’s home opener earlier this month. Last June, the South Dakota Board of Regents approved increased alcohol sales at all six public universities in the state.
What did Kramer think of the change?
“Well obviously I’m here drinking a Bud Light,” he said. ” I think that it’s good. It’s a good thing as long as – you know, you’ll always have idiots who drink too much and create problems. But if they have enough security to keep them in line and kick them out, I think that’s great.
Regent schools include NCAA Division I USD and South Dakota State, NCAA Division II Northern State, Black Hills State and School of Mines, and South Dakota State. Dakota from the NAIA.
Schools are allowed, but not required, to increase alcohol sales. In addition, Regents policy requires the creation of alcohol-free zones.
SHU officials have been working with campus food and facilities management company Sodexo on the changes, according to athletic director David Herbster. The sales expansion began with the late August volleyball games at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center (SCSC).
“We certainly hope it adds to the fan experience,” Herbster said. “The addition of gear previously unavailable to the general public is a positive step forward in the overall experience, and on par with what other major D-1 universities offer their fan base.”
Sodexo selects the beers for sale and sets the price. Currently, fans are offered five outlets in the Dome and up to four outlets in the SCSC. So far, USD officials have not released any sell numbers.
The SCSC opener volleyball game provided a “soft opener” ahead of the first home football game, Herbster said. It reported positive fan responses with no incidents related to liquor sales.
“Although we are in different facilities (for both sports) with very different fan density, it was good to start working on the process,” he said.
The football game went well, but USD officials are fine-tuning the process, Herbster said. “I think we had the right number of liquor outlets throughout, but we will be looking for concession-only satellite kiosks on the east side of the Dome,” he said.
High attendance numbers at USD sporting events this fall require maximum efficiency to serve customers across all franchise lines, Herbster said.
“Volleyball is the 28th in attendance in the country, and we had 20% more fans at this football game than at the first football game last year,” he said. “I would attribute this more to the recent and current success of both programs.”
From a fan’s perspective, Kramer said he was pleased with the rollout of the liquor sales expansion.
“I think, as you know, it benefits the university,” he said. “I didn’t think the price was terribly out of place — $7 for a Tallboy (beer) isn’t bad. You know, good for them (in USD)! »
South Dakota State University has introduced beer and hard seltzer sales to general admission areas, according to Jeff Holm, senior associate athletic director for facilities and operations.
SDSU hosted two football games with four home dates remaining. Large crowds are expected for the Showdown Series game against USD and the Hobo Day comeback game.
“Our experience with liquor sales in the first two home football games has been very good,” Holm said. “Spectators and University officials were equally satisfied with the logistics and the environment.”
The increase in alcohol sales is among the changes to Game Day, including tailgating and parking, Holm said.
“Our Game Day atmosphere in the stadium continues to grow, and the ability for major fans to buy a beer is part of the experience,” he said. “So far fans have been very respectful and beer sales have been popular.”
Although sales have gone well, SDSU officials are still looking to improve the experience, Holm said. “In the coming weeks there will undoubtedly be some adjustments,” he said.
SDSU officials are not releasing sales figures at this time, Holm said. However, they are finalizing their plans to sell beer at Frost Arena, which hosts men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling.
“We didn’t notice any kind of gathering spaces, as most people just buy their beer and go back to their seats,” he said.
Alcohol sales have produced no negative incidents so far, Holm said.
“So far in the stadium we haven’t had any medical incidents due to alcohol,” he said. “The tailgating went very well, and it seems like more people are entering the stadium a bit earlier than in years past.”
As the school year progresses, alcohol may be served at more Jackrabbit sporting events, according to Jason Hove, assistant athletic director for sports news.
Sodexo, campus and sports officials have discussed whether to offer alcohol sales at other on-campus sporting events, such as indoor track, baseball and softball, he said. .
However, one event remains off limits, Hove said. “We won’t have liquor sales at women’s soccer because it’s a city-run, off-campus facility,” he said.
Other regional universities are forging ahead with liquor sales, seen as part of a growing national trend.
For North Dakota State University football, beer and soda (non-alcoholic) are available for the first time at concession stands and permitted in all seating sections of the Fargodome.
The new policy was in place for the home football opener. The rules include a maximum order of two drinks at a time per person, a maximum cup size of 22 ounces and a time limit for alcohol purchases at the end of the third quarter.
Fargodome officials said preliminary totals showed more than $32,000 came from alcohol sales and accounted for a quarter of the day’s revenue.
At the University of Nebraska, the board of trustees is set to vote Friday on allowing alcohol sales during men’s and women’s basketball games at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
Earlier this year, the NU Board of Regents unanimously approved ending the ban on the sale of alcohol at sporting events in Nebraska.
For more information, see the respective school websites.
Eric Bean, associate editor of Press & Dakotan Sports, contributed to this report.
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