Let's be honest, after suffering through the eras of Tim Brewster, Glen Mason, Jim Wacker and others, Minnesota fans could use a beer.
Fortunately for Gopher fans, the state assembly agrees.
The Minnesota legislature sent a liquor omnibus bill signed with overwhelming bilateral support to governor Mark Dayton today, and in that bill are provisions to sell alcohol in luxury suites and at a beer garden at Gopher home TCF Bank Stadium.
When asked about why the beer provisions were included in the bill, Minnesota officials basically said "Because rich people want beer?" and then did the money gesture with their hands:
The University opted for an alcohol-free policy and suffered large revenue losses from the lack of alcohol in premium seats, athletics director Joel Maturi said. Because the University couldn’t sell alcohol, suite leasers were offered either a 10-percent discount per year or a 20-percent discount over the length of the lease, athletics spokesman Garry Bowman previously told the Minnesota Daily.
Cohen said that the absence of alcohol has impacted suite sales. “Not selling suites has been a problem, and suites haven’t been easy to sell,” Cohen said. “Not selling alcohol has been a factor.”
We applaud this move. We applaud it not just because beer is fun to drink (though it certainly is), but because it avoids some of the biggest dangers of alcohol consumption at public places. To wit:
It's "just" beer.
There's no such thing as a truly safe alcoholic drink; anything short of what they sell in Utah can cause severe intoxication and the subsequent problems therein.
But by and large, that kind of problematic drinking is caused by harder alcohols, none of which will be available.
It's in an easily regulated environment.
If the beer garden and suites are the only places where fans can consume the beer, then there's no alcohol being brought to the seats, no cups flying onto the field when things inevitably go south for one of the two teams and most importantly much less beer being transferred to those who can't legally buy it.
It's only a couple hours of that beer.
By cutting off beer sales at halftime (in other words, a quarter before most stadiums stop sales), the heaviest drinking will be significantly curtailed, and fans waiting until the end of the game to leave will likely have at least an hour and a half to sober up before getting behind the wheel is even an option.
It's not a good idea to try to drink a ton.
Those most worried about creating opportunities for excessive drinking (and drunk driving) may take note of the fact that this really isn't an ideal situation from a heavy drinker's standpoint.
The prices are going to be high. The wait for more beer is going to be long. The police presence at and outside the stadium is going to be significant.
Minnesota obviously can't stop people from getting drunk and watching the Gophers, but they can pretty easily minimize binge drinking at the stadium itself.
And considering the acute awareness schools have of liability these days, it's safe to assume Minnesota will actively make sure that type of behavior doesn't happen at the stadium.