Michigan Football has a historic tradition and a very proud fan base, a fan base with a desire to put back a few while watching the game.
Contrary to popular belief, the NCAA only ever had a few restrictions on enjoying libations at college sporting events. In fact, the ban they had in place was lifted last year – a ban which restricted sales solely at championship events.
For those down south in the SEC, you must be thinking that’s not true, we can’t drink at our stadiums. Well, you’re partially right, however, its the SEC conference, not the NCAA who bans alcohol in general seating areas and for reasons unknown to capitalists nationwide.
Those outside of the Bible Belt enjoy a health stream of greenbacks. Ohio State began allowing alcohol in general seating in 2016 and announced a net revenue from booze sales at $1,231,280 for 2017.
Nationwide, depending on where you look, around 50 college stadiums of the 129 Division I schools currently sell alcohol within the stadium grounds. Although, many restrict the sales to luxury seating or box seats.
Why won’t Michigan sell some booze?
It’s quasi against the law.
According to the Michigan Liquor Control Code of 1998, the sale of alcohol is prohibited in college stadiums unless the stadium is being used for another purpose like professional sporting events.
The exception to the rule was used at Michigan Football stadium in 2014. The Winter Classic was held at the Big House setting a record for largest crowd at an NHL event – 105,491 attended and drank to their heart’s content.
That single game generated a reported revenue of $650,000. Imagine if they just changed the old law and sold beer at every game. Let’s do the math, seven home games times $650,000 equals… $4,550,000.
What could Michigan do to capitalize on this enormous cash cow?
They could always ask lawmakers to change the code since its never been challenged. State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, told the Lansing State Journal “the topic has never come up during his tenure in the legislature.”
Oh, and by the way, Michigan State sells beer at select locations.
Mark Burzych, an attorney specializing in liquor licensing at the law firm Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes, clarified how Michigan’s “little brother” was able to allow alcohol in special seating.
“MSU was able to get a liquor license for the Huntington Club because those premium seats are in a separate building that is not physically attached to the rest of Spartan Stadium.”
So, it’s against the law but not really.
Crime Will Go Up
Since a majority of the universities began participating in alcohol sales with the past few years, the amount of crime data is restricted to just a few schools who began the practice shortly after 2010.
One of the original schools was West Virginia, who started slinging booze in 2011 and reported a 30% decline in alcohol-related offenses.
“Police will tell you that hasn’t eliminated binge drinking, but it has cut down on it,” said Oliver Luck, the former West Virginia Athletic Director from 2010-2014.
“When I got there as athletic director in 2010, one of the things I heard most frequently was that we had a real problem with tailgating, you could leave at halftime, go out to your tailgate, chug a bottle of vodka, and come back in, now they’re finding that by selling beer in a controlled environment and not allowing people to come in and out, it’s cutting down on those incidents.”
Jump on Board with Illinois
On April 2nd, 2019, the Fighting Illini announced it would begin selling beer in general seating at sporting events starting in the Fall.
“We are continually looking for ways to improve fan engagement and augment our in-game fan experience,” Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said in a press release. “We have studied the issue extensively and, with the collaboration and support of our colleagues in various offices across campus, we feel now is the right time to add this new element to our game-day experience.”
While we don’t want to mimic Illinois in winning percentage, it would be nice to grab a beer before we pour into our two inches of space on a bench known as our assigned seat.
Michigan AD Won’t allow it
Michigan and Nebraska are the only two Big Ten schools who outright ban the substance from stadiums and Michigan’s Athletic Director Warde Manuel has no plans to change that.
“That’s off the board at this time,” Manuel said during a press conference in 2017. “Everybody is looking at ways (to improve) fan experience, for the culture of their universities to adapt and adjust. And we hear from fans that some of them would like it if we sold beer in our facilities.
“Culturally, it hasn’t been here. And, right now, it’s not something we’re promoting or pushing internally.”
Culturally, people drink and you can profit from it.
Where Can I Buy Beer?
If you are traveling around this great land of ours and wondering which stadiums are selling beer to the cheap seats, the Des Moines Register put together a nice map for you here.
Also, the great people of Reddit put together a long list of strategies of how to sneak booze into stadiums – while we don’t condone breaking the law – the Reddit stream can be found here.