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No plans for beer at USD or SDSU games
Sioux Falls game an exception Oct. 20
Fans will get the rare opportunity to buy beer at a University of South Dakota football game later this month, but one Board of Regents official doesn’t expect alcohol sales to become commonplace at future college athletic events in the state.
The Coyotes will host defending Football Championship Subdivision national champion North Dakota State University on Oct. 20 at Howard Wood Field in USD’s first game in Sioux Falls since it went Division I.
USD is using the game as a way to connect with alumni in the state’s largest city, and the Sioux Falls Sports Authority was instrumental in setting up the contest. The Sports Authority decided to add beer sales to make more money.
Because the game will not be played on university property controlled by the Board of Regents, the board’s permission to sell alcohol at the game was not required.
“It’s our ability to do that,” said Mike Sullivan, executive director of the Sports Authority. “It’s a revenue source that allows us to make money to bring in other events. Lots of stadiums in the nation sell beer … colleges have the decision on if they want to sell or not. It’s not like it’s not done all over the country.”
The City Council this past week approved a special one-day liquor license for SMG, which allows the company to do beer sales at Howard Wood during the game. Cans of beer will be sold, at a maximum of two at a time, similar to how it’s done during the Summit League tournament, said Terry Torkildson, general manager for the Sioux Falls Arena, which is operated by SMG.
SMG also does all concessions at Howard Wood Field.
Alcohol is not sold in the DakotaDome during USD games, but beer is available in a closed-off area called Coyote Landing, which is overseen by the Howling Pack and USD Foundation with wristband access, athletic director David Sayler said. He said the beer sales at Howard Wood Field had no bearing on the decision to play in Sioux Falls, and he doesn’t anticipate asking for alcohol sales for games at the DakotaDome.
The NCAA does allow for alcohol sales at stadiums on college campuses, but in South Dakota, the decision also would need approval by the Board of Regents, said Paul Turman, the board’s vice president of research.
In a few cases, the Regents allow alcohol distribution at campus venues, usually for events aligned with alumni activities, Turman said. But full alcohol sales at university stadiums for athletic activities never has been discussed by the board. Tailgating locations have strict guidelines for alcohol consumption, and it cannot be brought into the games.
If universities want to pursue the concept of selling alcohol during games, Turman said the board will hear the request.
“I think the board and our executive director would be very cautious about going down a path where we sell alcohol at our sporting activities,” he said. “We’re pushing more on how to curb binge drinking, lower the number of students drinking under age 21, and the more opportunities you present students with those activities, you see it become more difficult to see growth on the other side.”
South Dakota State University doesn’t sell alcohol during games at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in Brookings, but the school does serve it in some entertaining areas for various sporting events, athletic director Justin Sell said.
While the concept hasn’t been aggressively pursued in South Dakota, some schools across the country are starting to add alcohol sales at stadiums as a way to boost profits and help pay for programs. All game profits from the USD-NDSU match-up will be split between the Sports Authority and USD, although Sullivan would not release specific details of the deal.
The University of Minnesota added alcohol sales at its TCF Bank Stadium this academic year, and it’s going well, said Garry Bowman, director of athletic communications for the school.
The Minnesota State Legislature decided in 2009 — right before the Gophers’ new facility opened — that alcohol needed to be available throughout an entire stadium, or nowhere at all. At that time, officials opted for no alcohol sales. The issue was revisited last summer, and officials designed a plan to set up beer and wine sales at a separate concession area on the west end of the plaza. Sales weren’t added for financial reasons, Bowman said, but rather to add the option for premium seating fans.
West Virginia also recently added alcohol sales.
NDSU officials have discussed selling alcohol at Bison events but decided not to, said Troy Goergen, senior associate athletic director for marketing and media relations for the school.
“It’s philosophical because of the prevalence of underage drinking and overconsumption,” he said, adding that the Bison often play in facilities that feature alcohol sales, such as Colorado State and Minnesota. “The revenue is clear to see on paper. It’s just a matter of do you want to throw your philosophy aside for that revenue?”
Beer is not sold during Nebraska Cornhusker games in Lincoln, and it’s not something that’s been considered in the past 30 years, said Chris Anderson, director of athletic community relations.
The Sports Authority has the contract for the USD-NDSU game, so the Sioux Falls School District was not involved in any details for alcohol sales, spokeswoman DeeAnn Konrad said. It’s against district policy to serve alcohol on property for school district events, Konrad said.
The beer sales for the USD-NDSU game will be no different than how it’s done at Skyforce, Stampede or Storm games, Torkildson said. Beer will be separate from general concession locations, and people will show their ID and get a wristband to buy 16-ounce cans for $4.50. Security, off-duty police officers and staff will monitor the event. Generally, sales stop a half hour before the end of the game.
“If it appears it might become a problem, we will just stop selling,” Torkildson said. “We have zero tolerance and take alcohol sales extremely seriously. If someone is caught without a wristband and is of age, they’ll be forced to get one. If they’re underage, they and the person who passed the beer to them will both be removed or turned over to police.”
USD’s Sayler said the goal of the game in Sioux Falls is to expand the Coyote brand and get more alumni to attend. He hopes to schedule more games here in the future.
“To play in front of a great crowd that can understand and see what a D-I game feels like,” he said when asked why the Coyotes came north to play a “home” game, adding that about 75 percent of tickets for the 10,000-seat facility already have been sold.
Playing in Sioux Falls isn’t in the plan for SDSU because with only five home games and attendance at record highs, Sell wants to keep the games near students and Brookings community members and businesses.
By Sarah Reinecke, Argus Leader