Could your athletic department use a few extra revenue dollars? Undoubtedly the answer to that question is yes. As cost associated with athletics continue to rise, athletic departments are increasing searching for new untapped sources of revenue. Many have turned to alcohol sales at sporting events as one way to pad the bottom line.
In 2015, 34 schools’ sold beer at football games but only six of those schools were from the Power Five, including the University of Texas. In 2016, the number of schools selling alcohol jumped to nearly 40 schools, with blueblood programs such as Ohio State and Penn State joining in.
In its first year of sales, Ohio State generated over a million dollars in additional revenue. The University of Texas meanwhile saw a 70% increase in sales from 2015 to 2016, with the Longhorns taking in over $3 million worth of sales last season. After expenses, UT walked away with a roughly $1.3 million profit according to reports.
Simply put, there is just too much money to be made.
Which is why it was not surprising to learn that LSU is looking to become the first SEC member to bring alcohol sales into the fold. LSU is hoping to add a beer garden inside Tiger Stadium as soon as this fall. The Tigers decision to opt for a beer garden opposed to stadium-wide sales is due to a SEC regulation not allowing members to sell alcohol at athletic events. But make no mistake, when LSU does add the beer garden to Tiger Stadium it will add more than enough revenue to the bottom line that more SEC schools will follow the Tigers lead.
The move to add alcohol sales at events isn’t limited to football either. In 2016 the NCAA for the first time ok’d beer and wine sales at the College World Series in Omaha and the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
The decision last summer by the NCAA points to a shift in attitude from college athletics governing body as well as many of the institutions it governs. Gone are the days of pretending college sporting events are too pure to be tainted by the sale of a cold beer or glass of wine. Instead, athletic directors and university presidents are understanding if executed properly, the sale of alcohol makes too much sense.
With a shift in philosophy, expect alcohol sales at college sporting events to become the norm rather than the exception. The opportunity to add much-needed revenue to the bottom line is proving to be too good to pass up.