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Need for new revenue streams could lead to more schools selling alcohol at games

Jun 22, 2014, 7:02 PM EST

Whit Babcock AP

In this age college athletic departments are constantly in search of a new revenue stream, with the costs of building and maintaining a successful department rising annually. While the most powerful conferences can also rely on lucrative television deals, that isn’t the case for all schools. And also to be considered is the ongoing Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, which could cost Division I programs millions of dollars should the plaintiffs win.

With these issues hovering over collegiate athletics, more programs are entertaining the idea of selling alcohol at sporting events according to Dan Wolken of USA Today. The decision whether or not to do so in most cases has been left up to the individual schools, with the SEC being the only major conference prohibiting its members from doing so.

The possibility of bringing in more money through a new revenue stream, which could become even more necessary in the near future, is something athletic directors find tougher to ignore.

“It seems like it’s going that way, and I think you’ll see more doing it,” said Virginia Tech athletics director Whit Babcock. “But it’s a cultural issue at a place of higher education where there’s a tradition (of not selling it). I don’t know that it will be one of the top things on my agenda. But as more people do it … I’ll definitely be watching.”

There are a number of issues to consider when debating the idea of selling alcohol at sporting events, one of which being fan behavior and whether or not extra security will be required. But there are plenty of spectators who drink beer and other alcoholic beverages at tailgates and/or bars prior to entering events, so the change may not be as drastic as it would seem at first glance (although that may not be the case from a liability standpoint).

Do fans have to have a beer in order to enjoy the game they’re attending? That depends on the person. But given the profits schools could make from selling alcoholic beverages, more may decide to go that route provided all possible scenarios are addressed while making plans to do so.