Penn State has long resisted alcohol sales at Beaver Stadium, but as universities search for new revenue streams, the trend is moving towards college-stadium beers sales, just as pro-stadiums have done for as long as anyone can remember. In May of this year, Penn State announced that it would allow beer and wine sales in the hoity-toity suites and club seats, while the masses would have to get their drink on the old fashioned way in the Beaver Stadium parking lots. In 2015, Ohio State took the exact same segregated alcohol sales approach, but in 2016, all of Buckeye Nation will be able to drink beer in the stadium, not just the well-heeled in club seats.
This begs the obvious question as to whether Beaver Stadium will allow stadium-wide beer sales after the 2016 season. It should be noted that the revenue generated by Ohio Stadium beer sales has been ear-marked to fund two full-time positions with Ohio State University Police. College sports in now a multi-million dollar business, and it is becoming increasingly hard to justify “leaving money on the table.” Perhaps Penn State will likewise be tempted to use beer sales to fund police services or offset other university expenses.
Personally, I believe Beaver Stadium beer sales would be more positive than negative. First of all, the university would make a lot of money at home games. More importantly, it might actually decrease the amount of excessive drinking. This might sound counter-intuitive, but West Virginia University has seen a decrease in alcohol-related offenses on game day since allowing stadium beer sales. Currently, certain people chug as much alcohol as they can right before kick-off, knowing that they will not have a chance to drink for the next three or four hours. If people know they can buy beer in the stadium, they are less likely to pound drinks right before kick-off. Yet once they are inside the stadium, the excessive prices will discourage people from over-indulging.
Another reason to allow alcohol sales is that it would open up the possibility of hosting other sporting events, such as an annual NFL pre-season clash between the Steelers and Eagles or an outdoor NHL clash featuring the Penguins and Flyers. The NFL and NHL generally will only play in stadiums which sell the beers that pay big money to sponsor the leagues. We may also see some long-awaited, pre-season, soccer friendlies between top-flight European clubs. In 2014, Michigan’s Big House packed in 109,318 people for a friendly between Real Madrid and Manchester United. Soccer fans in Nittany nation were green with envy. There is no reason why we could not do the same thing here, as well as hosting U.S. Men’s and Women’s national team matches. We have the third biggest stadium in the world, and it should be used more than eight times a year!
Matt McClenahen is a Penn State alumnus, football season ticket holder and criminal defense lawyer in State College, PA. http://www.mattmlaw.com/About-Attorney-McClenahen/