Pints & pigskins

Published 10:05 pm Friday, July 25, 2014

Photo illustration/April Garon

Photo illustration/April Garon

Fans weigh in on beer sales inside Veterans Memorial Stadium

Football fans attending Troy games this fall will find a new item on the concession menu: beer.

After completing a “trial run” during the 2014 baseball season, Troy officials plan to continue alcohol sales are Trojan sporting events, including football games, in the future.

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Troy Athletic Director John Hartwell said sales went smooth during the spring, and anticipates no issues during the 2014 football season.

“Baseball was a great opportunity to roll it out and we have done a lot of planning for football season,” Hartwell said.

Beer sales at football games will be conducted in the same manner as at baseball events. Patrons over the legal drinking age of 21 will have the opportunity to acquire a wristband allowing them to purchase beverages.

Four to six beer kiosks will be located around the stadium, out of view of television cameras, and beers will be poured from 16-ounce cans in to plastic cups.

Troy is nowhere near the first NCAA institution to allow sales at sporting events. Sun Belt Conference, and in-state, rival South Alabama has offered alcohol at games for over a decade.

Several major conference schools, such as Minnesota and West Virginia, have hopped on the hops bandwagon as well in recent season.

While beer sales may bring more spectators to the stadium to begin with, most Troy fans are in agreement the new concession option is designed to do two things: build revenue for the athletic program and enhance the game day atmosphere.

Michael Lambert, a Troy University alumnus and lifelong Trojan fan, sees only positives from allowing alcohol sales.

“People are going to drink beer at the game anyway,” Lambert said. “In order to grow and support the tax base of this town, the program needs revenue; season ticket sales aren’t going to get us to the next level. John Hartwell has done a fantastic job exploring revenue options and getting us better schedules. Beer sales will help us fill the ‘Vet’, and might even bring a few tailgaters in to the game that would otherwise stay outside.”

Hartwell said Troy Athletics experienced an $8,000 increase in revenue from beer sales at baseball games.

While the NCAA still bans the sale of alcohol at championship events, such as the Final Four and College World Series, and some conferences – most notably the SEC – don’t allow beer sales at league games, the Sun Belt has long been OK with the process.

Troy will become the 10th Sun Belt member, out of 12 league teams, to offer the beer option to fans. Brian Ross, the unofficial Dean of Troy fans, feels the positives of beer sales outweigh the negatives by a large margin.

“It will add revenue to the program, and we badly need it,” Ross said. “Most conferences already allow it, and have had seen alcohol related incidents actually go down. The cons are that there will probably not be any more passes out of the game, and fans have grown accustomed to that. All it does is give the fans that want to enjoy a beer while watching the game the option to do so.”

West Virginia implemented beer sales at football games in 2011, generating upward of $500,000 in new revenue while seeing fewer incidents of rowdy fan behavior related to binge drinking outside the stadium. Minnesota sold beer and wine at TCF Bank Stadium as part of a two-year pilot program beginning in 2012 and reported a $181,678 profit last season

Ross, known as HemiMan to Troy fans, fully expects Troy to follow the same trend.

“Having the option of getting a beer inside the stadium could probably make the tailgate binge drinking go down,” Ross said. “There is now no rush to finish your beverages before going to the game. I think it will create for better fan atmosphere and an overall better game day experience.”

Hartwell invited people to contact him with any questions or concerns and was met with only two. The sales generated one complaint from a season ticket holder and one disapproving letter from First Baptist Church.