Selling Alcohol at College Sporting Events Makes Sense and Cents

J.P. Scott@TheJPScottSenior Analyst IMay 22, 2013

Photo credit to The Thirsty Beagle on
Photo credit to The Thirsty Beagle on

College kids drink. It's a fact of life and no law will ever change that. Despite this fact, the NCAA and many states, cities and counties around the country have rules and regulations regarding the sale of alcohol at collegiate sporting events. Some of these rules are imposed by the schools themselves.


I don't understand limiting the revenue you could generate in college sports, especially when we see so many sports being cut around the country in the name of saving a few dollars. Collegiate sports are part of the fabric of our nation. When it comes down to a choice between cutting a sport or looking for ways to increase the revenue the sport generates, there shouldn't any question about what to do. Every opportunity to save the sport should be considered, including serving alcohol.

One sport that could use alcohol sales in order to boost both attendance and revenue is college baseball. If you look at one of the most recent NCAA Baseball Attendance reports, you'll see that 19 of the top 20 schools play in warm weather climates. You'll also notice no Big Ten schools. That seems odd, considering the number of minor league baseball teams that thrive in the same area of the country that the Big Ten competes in.

My point? Most Big ten teams don't serve alcohol at their games to offset the less than desirable weather as a way to draw spectators. As a result, they survive off the money their football and basketball teams generate.

Looking closer at the same list, you'll see Creighton University at No. 16. Creighton plays in Omaha, NE. Omaha is in cold-weather Big Ten country, yet they draw nearly 3,000 fans to every game. Sure, playing at TD Ameritrade Park—home of the College World Series—might help a little. In my opinion, the stadium's proximity to campus and the fact that alcohol is served at the games has more to do with it.

I can't imagine the amount of money the College World Series loses out on by not serving alcohol. Instead, fans pack the dozens of bars and beer tents within a stone's throw of TD Ameritrade Park before and after games, helping the city of Omaha's economy to the tune of $40 million or so every year. Think of the scholarships that just a sliver of that money could create and the programs around the country it could save.

Some rules implemented by the colleges themselves involve not serving alcohol at on-campus events. I do not understand that logic either. I'm going to go off the cuff and guess that 33 percent of a college's undergraduate student body can legally purchase and consume alcohol.

By not serving it at on-campus sporting events, you are making the decision for students to go off campus to local bars and clubs for pregame festivities much easier, creating a situation where they could be walking or even potentially driving back to campus intoxicated. You also lose out on the cash they spend, which is second of course to the safety of the student body.

Serving alcohol on campus, even if it's just an hour before the event begins, allows students to stay safely on campus as well as capitalize on the money they spend on the alcohol.

Until the old-school thought process of the people who create and enforce these kind of rules changes, we'll be left with a college landscape where sports that don't generate enough on ticket sales alone disappear so as not to cut into the revenue that the football and basketball teams bring in.