Florida is the latest school to start selling alcohol at sporting events.
The University Athletic Association announced Wednesday it will offer beer and wine sales in premium seating at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and at men’s basketball games in the O’Connell Center beginning this fall.
Like most programs around the country, the Gators are looking to improve game-day experience in hopes of boosting ticket sales and create a new revenue stream at a time when costs are on the rise as schools pay athletes a monthly stipend. Florida also has about $100 million in on-campus projects under way and more planned. So selling alcohol meets a demand and brings in extra cash.
The Gators don’t expect a financial windfall from the deal, though. They project net revenue from alcohol sales at seven football games and 18 basketball games to be about $145,000. They also estimate that sales will impact just 7.5 percent of fans at football games and about 6 percent at basketball games.
Of course, opening the door for alcohol sales in premium seats could eventually lead to sales in other or all sections.
For now, beer and wine will be sold in the Holloway Touchdown Terrace and the Evans Champions Club at football games this season, and in premium seats at the O’Dome, which will soon begin a $65 million renovation. The arena is expected to reopen in December.
Alcohol sales have become common on college campuses, including at NCAA championships sites for baseball and softball. At least 34 schools sell beer at football games, including at least 14 that limit the sale to luxury suites and/or club areas.
Five Southeastern Conference schools sell alcohol at football games and three at basketball.
Florida football suite holders have been able to stock alcohol in suites for several years.
“Providing alcohol in our premium seating areas for both football and men’s basketball was another amenity we wanted to provide to the fans in those areas,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said.
Florida’s beer and wine sales will end at the start of the third quarter at football games and at the start of the second half in men’s basketball games. Fans purchasing alcohol in the premium areas must consume their drinks in the lounge and won’t be allowed to take any alcohol to general-seating areas.
The Gators had been reluctant to sell alcohol on campus, especially under former school president Bernie Machen.
Machen fought to deter alcohol abuse and binge drinking on campus, and even campaigned against the annual Florida-Georgia football game using the moniker “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” in 2006.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.