Why Texas Tech Should Sell Alcohol At Sporting Events


With the news that the University of Texas plans to sell beer and wine at football games this fall, the issue of alcohol sales at Texas Tech home games again should be examined. The old way of thinking about in-stadium beer in college sports venues is rapidly giving way to the realization that positives of alcohol sales outweigh the negatives.

For the sake of transparency, I must state that I do not drink alcohol so my thoughts on this issue are not self-serving. Rather, by taking a rational look at both sides of the issue, it is obvious that Texas Tech is missing out on some great opportunities by not selling beer throughout Jones AT&T Stadium and in all of its other athletic venues.

More from Wreck'Em Red

For years, most of those opposed to beer sales at college sporting events have cited public safety as the main reason for prohibiting libations inside the stadium. However, this notion is antiquated and illogical.

Anyone who has been to a college football game in Jones Stadium is well aware that alcohol is already in and around the stadium. Walking through the tailgating areas, the smell of beer overpowers even the smell of the BBQ ribs being grilled.

The fact is that fans are going to consume alcohol, and when it is prohibited inside a stadium, people are far more likely to binge drink in the parking lot prior to the game and at half time. The sale of alcohol inside Jones Stadium would curtail many people’s idea that they must drink as much as possible prior to the game.

"In a 2005 article about a ban on beer sales at Colorado State football games (ending a decades-long tradition of alcohol availability for spectators) Nikolaus Olsen of The Coloradan, reported that according to official Colorado State University police statements, “Alcohol-related incidents — including public intoxication, underage drinking, property damage and the smuggling of alcohol into the [CSU] football stadium — have increased since the [alcohol] ban went into effect in the fall.”"

It stands to reason that if every major professional sports league in the world is able to sell beer and alcohol without major incidents, college programs could do the same while maintaining public safety. When was the last time there was a riot at a NASCAR race even though the fans at those events usually have an I.V. bag dripping beer into their veins during the race?

The addition of beer sales is also a source of revenue that the Texas Tech athletic program is missing out on. As recently discussed on WreckEmRed.com, the Tech athletic department is in debt to the tune of $111 million dollars causing profit margins to be slim.

"Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News notes that, “West Virginia generated $520,000 in alcohol revenue during 2011, its first season selling beer at football games.”"

Likewise, The University of Nevada, Reno has added $350,000, and Troy University officials estimate adding an extra $200,000 of revenue, respectively to their program’s bottom line. These numbers pale in comparison to the revenue Texas Tech could generate in Jones Stadium, which is twice the capacity of the stadiums in which Nevada and Troy play.

If Texas Tech could see similar profits from alcohol sales, the strain of funding sports like softball, track and field, or golf that do not generate revenue could be significantly alleviated. In addition, alcohol sales could benefit the school’s second most important revenue generating sport.

“West Virginia generated $520,000 in alcohol revenue during 2011…”

With the recent struggles of the Texas Tech men’s basketball program, the average attendance at home games is only slightly over 6,000 fans per game, meaning that over half of the arena is empty.  In recent years, the Texas Tech marketing team has pulled out every promotion and gimmick possible to increase attendance.

Head coach Tubby Smith has even taken to buying lunch for students on campus in order to persuade them to show up at games. Yet attendance continues to lag.

Last season, the Texas Longhorns began selling alcohol at basketball games. The average attendance per game increased by over 1,000 fans from the previous season despite the fact that the Longhorns had a worse team in 2014.

More from Texas Tech Basketball

Southern Methodist University also reported a 64 percent increase in attendance at basketball games during its first year of alcohol sales in Moody Coliseum. Though, it should be noted that this attendance spike also correlated with a stadium renovation and a vastly improved product on the court.

While the number one draw for fans is winning, if selling alcohol entices 1,000 or more fans to come to the U.S.A. 18-20 times per year, that could be an increase of 20,000 fans over the course of the year. If 40 percent of those fans purchase alcohol at each game, the basketball program would see a significant increase in revenue.

Unlike football, tailgating is not part of college basketball due to the fact that the weather often does not permit outdoor activities in the winter. Thus, alcohol sales at basketball games could be even more enticing to the casual fan than it is for football games.

Alcohol and sports go together like beaches and bikinis. Times are changing and alcohol is soon to be part of virtually every college-sporting event. In a time when many college athletic programs are struggling to break even financially, there is simply too much revenue to be made to ignore this changing tide.

Texas Tech should be proactive and begin to implement policies to allow beer and alcohol sales at every athletic event. With each game that passes without the university tapping into this revenue stream, the athletic program loses an opportunity to increase its overall profits.  Lubbock County is no longer dry so why should Texas Tech be?