When I was still in college at UCA in 2015, I, along with another reporter for the university’s newspaper The Echo, wrote an in-depth about the impact of alcohol sales at college athletics.
At that time, 21 universities with on-campus football stadiums allowed fans of legal age to buy beer during games and that number has increased to nearly 52 FBS institutions.
Then UCA president Tom Courtway said there wouldn’t be alcohol sales at UCA sporting events, and athletic director Brad Teague echoed those sentiments, saying “I don’t see many upsides to it for UCA. There are few schools in the conference that do sell and their revenue gain is not significant from sales.”
Why go through the hassle of obtaining a license to sell alcohol in a dry county?
Well, to play devil’s advocate, I have attended just about every UCA home football game for the last nine years.
There are a few things that one can be sure to see at Bears football games.
Every year, there has been a good product on the field, despite some UCA teams playing close to a .500 season record.
Attendance dwindles as the season wears on almost to an embarrassing level despite that good product being on the field, whether fans and students alike succumb to the weather, hunting season or are preoccupied with other college football games.
And finally, there are tailgaters.
However, one problem that I can see just about every game is that tailgaters often will stand outside the stadium along Bruce Street to watch games.
A potential reason why could be that alcohol is allowed during tailgating, but not allowed in the stadium.
So, why would people who want to be at a college football game want to go inside a stadium that doesn’t sell alcohol when they can consume it on the street?
It is indeed frustrating and truly hurts the argument of upgrading seating at Estes Stadium or the amenities when people don’t show up.
One student we got a quote from for our in-depth said he would more likely come to games if there were alcohol sold at the games.
That’s a valid argument as well as I could see others saying the same thing.
And, I’m revising this in-depth because the Southeastern Conference recently voted to allow the sale of alcohol at sporting events.
A story ran in Saturday’s edition of the Log Cabin by the Associated Press that spoke on the SEC’s vote.
The article stated one statistic that was in line with what we found out in 2015 when researching this topic for the in-depth.
In both Saturday’s article and that in-depth, studies have shown that “alcohol sales reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents at sporting event because they cut down on binge drinking before games.”
With stadiums shutting off alcohol sales at the end of the third quarter and high cost of buying alcohol, this makes sense.
The SEC was the final Power Five conference to allow the sale of alcohol and will allow schools to decide whether they will sell alcohol or not and will designate locations for beer and wine will be available.
But, the changes are expected to create new revenue for schools.
In fact, Saturday’s article states schools that have been selling alcohol for years has seen an economic surge.
“Texas reportedly grossed $5 million from alcohol sales during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.”
While that may seem small for some larger schools, it does pay some annual salary for coaches at those larger schools.
So, taking that into account, it may not be that beneficial for UCA to sell alcohol because it would likely not make as much money as the University of Texas.
But, it would likely create some room for revenue that could potentially be used for stadium upgrades or could be used for what I believe UCA needs in terms of athletics and that’s a new basketball arena.
Either way, that decision is not up to me and I’m sure current UCA president Houston Davis and Teague and possibly others are doing their research.