Eastern Michigan athletic director Heather Lyke announced this week that EMU will join the growing number of college football stadiums offering beer sales. This announcement comes on the heels of EMU’s 48-29 road win against Wyoming, the Eagle’s first non-conference road win in 27 years! With such a record of futility, the undisputedly worst of the five FBS college football teams in Michigan had to do something to encourage attendance and generate revenue.
And not only is EMU serving beer from 90 minutes before kick-off through the third quarter; it is selling good beer! Craft beer from nearby Arbor Brewing Company will sell for $7 a pint. None of that disgusting Reinheitsgebot-violating liquid sold at NFL stadiums under the moniker “Bud Lite” will be served at Rynearson Stadium. Unlike at NFL stadiums, the beer will only be sold in a sealed-off patio area, and entry into this area will be restricted to people 21 and over. This week’s home game against Ball State will serve as a test run, and if all goes well, we should expect continued sales in the future.
It should be noted that beer sales at college stadiums is not just about money. Strangely enough, alcohol-related offenses like disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and assaults have actually been reduced at schools with in-stadium alcohol sales. If people know they can buy beer in the stadium, they are less likely to shotgun beers or do shots right before entering the stadium. But once inside the stadium, the high prices discourage over-consumption. Thus, alcohol sales in the stadium appear to encourage responsible drinking. It is win, win. The school gets more money and the well-behaved fans have less annoying or dangerous drunks to deal with. This is what economists call a “positive externality.”
Most readers of this blog are either Penn Staters or live in and around Happy Valley, so you may be wondering whether Beaver Stadium will jump on the beer wagon. My guess is not any time soon, even with recent alcohol sales at the BJC. BJC alcohol sales have been at select events with far more appeal to older adults than college students. Also, Penn State has made a concerted effort to discourage student drug and alcohol consumption ever since the late 1990s. The university even provides fun, sober, weekend activities for students in far greater number than it did when I was a student all the way back in the Twentieth Century. Therefore, I do not think Penn State would want to do anything, which would look hypocritical.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania. He is an avid college football fan, Penn State season ticket holder and unabashed beer snob. http://www.mattmlaw.com/About-Attorney-McClenahen/