The college football bowls are upon us, raising the big question of the season–will they sell beer at the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl? “Yes” is a good bet. In fact, this year saw a rapidly increasing number of universities allowing fans to buy alcohol at on-campus sporting venues.
Ten years ago, fewer than a dozen big-time football universities permitted beer sales in their stadiums. Today more than 50–about a third of all Division I FBS schools–sell beer at their football venues, and a growing list of smaller schools are also bellying up to stadium bars. Several universities are going a step further, allowing brewers to place university brands and logos on their products. At the University of Texas, Longhorn fans have a new slogan – “Horns Up, Limes In” – the result of UT’s partnership with Corona.
In-venue alcohol sales are now permitted at most postseason bowl games, and the NCAA (never known to let a cash cow go un-milked) no longer bans alcohol sales at its championship events.
Of course, there is no secret as to why an increasing number of schools have jumped on the beer-sales wagon. At most universities, attendance and revenue at athletic events are down as more and more fans stay home and turn on HDTV instead of trekking to the stadium. As one marketing executive explained, “The parking is free in my driveway. The bathroom is eight steps away. I have all the cold beer I can drink in my fridge and, if this game is bad, there are another 25 games I can see.” Beer companies are eager partners; beer sales are down relative to wine and spirits, so brewers also are looking for any new opportunity to pour more.