The German folk song actually titled “In Heaven There is No Beer” is an inarguably catchy number, one that has been embraced by the university’s student body and adopted as its own. And yet, its lyrics are more tease than truth.
Like so many universities nationwide, the University of Wyoming doesn’t sell beer at any of its athletics events football and basketball included. The risks, according to the administration, outweigh the potential reward.
But as years pass, the climate is shifting. Restrictions are falling away, and a previously untapped revenue source is popping up more and more.
West Virginia a land grant institution, like UW began selling beer at football games in 2011. Minnesota followed in 2012, as did Western Kentucky.wholesale jerseys from china cheapnflnewjerseysusa Texas decided to make beer and wine available at a number of sporting events, including men and women’s basketball, earlier this year.
And after a successful trial run in its basketball arena in the 2013 14 season, SMU announced in late June that it will also sell beer and wine at home football games in 2014.
“I can confirm that our plan is to sell beer at Ford Stadium starting this fall,” SMU spokesman Brad Sutton told the Star Tribune in an email. “We were deliberate in setting the plan for Moody [Coliseum], and it was safe and successful, so this process will also be carefully designed and vetted before we roll it out.”
Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville, Memphis and Tulane all sell beer in some capacity. Brews are also no stranger to the Mountain West, as beer has been sold in Colorado State’s Hughes Stadium since 1976.
So, why not Wyoming? The athletics department could certainly use another revenue stream, as it ranked 9th out of 12 Mountain West members in total revenue and expenses last year, and 11th in recruiting spending.
But while every dollar needs an origin, Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman said this week that revenue won’t flow in on a river of suds.
“We have not actively discussed with our campus administration serving beer in our venues,” Burman said in a statement. “We understand that this is something some schools have added recently, but at this time I don’t see that as an option at the University of Wyoming.”
While it may not be an option in Laramie (with the exception being War Memorial Stadium’s Wildcatter Suites), it’s becoming a viable one at other Division I programs across the country. To explore both the advantages and setbacks, the Star Tribune spoke to administrators from a few schools where “The Beer Song” would be considered a statement of fact, rather than an ironic jingle.
Like nearly all things in sports, this particular dilemma comes down to money. After all the costs associated with selling beer in its venues, plus the likely addition of extra security to overlook the situation, would UW make enough of a profit to make the venture worthwhile?
Right now, that’s impossible to say. But by looking at similar cases in the past five years, the outlook is promising.
Minnesota began selling beer inside TCF Bank Stadium in 2012, and reportedly lost nearly $16,000 in its first year despite selling more than $900,000 worth of beer and wine in seven home games.
Year Two, however, was far more lucrative. With approximately $30,000 in one time expenditures out of the way, the Golden Gophers raked in a profit of $181,678 in 2013. West Virginia’s first year of beer and wine sales was much more immediately successful, as the Mountaineers collected more than $500,000 in revenue in 2011.
And though SMU declined to release specific figures to the Star Tribune, USA Today previously reported that the Mustangs’ trial run in the 2013 14 basketball season yielded a six figure windfall over only 12 total home games.
At this point, you may be thinking: “Yes, but what about a program with a comparable size to Wyoming?” The size of the venue and fan base certainly factor into total gross revenue.
To that point, let’s call to the stand Craig Biggs, associate athletic director for facilities and administration at Western Kentucky. His program, entering its first season as a member of Conference USA, earned almost $2 million less in total revenue than Wyoming in 2013, according to USA Today’s financial database as well as the Department of Education. Smith Stadium, is 22,113, roughly 7,000 less than War Memorial Stadium.
Given that information, could beer sales create a significant profit for a more modestly sized Division I program?
“We’ve had a pretty good revenue increase from doing it,” said Biggs, who also declined to release specific sales numbers. “We’ve done very well.”
If you sell it, will they come?
Biggs was tired of seeing more people in the parking lots than in the stands.
The primary reason why Western Kentucky began selling beer at home football games, Biggs said this week, was that too many potential fans were drinking while tailgating and then refusing to attend the actual game.