It’s going to be Ski-Brew-Mah! at the U.
University of Minnesota basketball and hockey fans will be able to grab a beer or wine no matter where they sit at Williams and Mariucci arenas following a unanimous vote Friday by U regents to allow liquor sales in general seating sections.
Along with dropping some ticket prices at men’s basketball and hockey games, U officials consider liquor sales another attempt at energizing the fan base and boosting revenue. The regents considered the proposal last month but had tabled it until now.
The only question Friday came from Regent Darrin Rosha, who asked whether changing the sales times would require regent approval. Sales now stop after halftime for basketball and after the break between the second and third periods for hockey.
U President Eric Kaler said he would consider that an administrative change not subject to board approval.
Mariucci is home to the men’s hockey team, and Williams plays host to both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The U has indicated that after one-time startup costs of $70,000, revenue at both arenas is projected to be about $250,000, not including increased ticket sales.
Athletic director Mark Coyle has previously said the U needs to get “creative” to get fans back in the stands. When it comes to entertainment, the Gophers are up against a wealth of options and amenities in the Twin Cities, he said after Friday’s vote.
“Our competition is not Wisconsin or Iowa,” Coyle said. “It’s professional teams, it’s movie theaters.”
TCF Bank Stadium so far is the only sports venue at the U where alcohol is sold outside of premium seating.
The expansion of alcohol sales at the football stadium hasn’t led to increased prolems at games, according to U officials.
In proposing the change, Kaler sent a memo to the Board of Regents saying that he strongly supported expanded sales.
Annual average revenue from alcohol sales at TCF Bank Stadium has been $1.3 million, with most of it coming from general admission sections rather than premium seats.
A decade ago, beer and wine sales were offered by fewer than a dozen collegiate institutions.
But the trend in collegiate sports has been toward more alcohol sales, including a majority of Big Ten schools. More than 50 Division I football schools allow wine and beer at stadiums on and off campus.
For the first time this year, the NCAA allowed alcohol sales to Final Four fans in April at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Earlier this year, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) lifted its ban on alcohol sales in public places at stadiums. Just this week, Texas A&M University became the first SEC school to allow beer and wine sales at football games through the third quarter.
During volleyball matches and wrestling meets, the U will offer alcohol in the new club seats at Maturi Pavilion, which shares an address with Williams.
The Gophers women’s hockey team plays in Ridder Arena, which opened in 2002 and doesn’t have a liquor license.
In addition to TCF Bank Stadium, Williams and Mariucci, the U holds liquor licenses for three other metro venues: Northrop auditorium, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen and Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights.
The U also holds liquor licenses for student centers on the Morris and Duluth campuses.