Wichita State University fans may be able to drink a toast to the American Athletic Conference at all home games, matches and tournaments.
WSU athletic director Darron Boatright said he made a request to university president John Bardo to sell 3.2 beer at athletic events. The request comes as Bardo is evaluating the campus alcohol policy with hotels and restaurants under consideration for the university’s Innovation Campus.
“I believe it’s at a stage where a decision will be made soon,” Boatright said. “The request I’ve made is for all athletic facilities.
“I would be interested in offering consistent concession stands at all of our events, if possible.”
Beer and alcohol sales at college sports events is no longer a rarity. Boatright’s request would bring the rest of WSU’s athletic events in line with baseball at Eck Stadium for beer sales. It would also bring WSU up to date in comparison with most schools in the American Athletic Conference.
“It is under review, but no action has been taken,” Lou Heldman, vice president for strategic communication, said in an e-mail.
The constant search for money and the competition with professional sports – where alcohol sales are uniformly allowed – leads schools to add to their concession offerings. While Boatright declined to share specific research about potential revenue, he said it could significantly help a department that is taking on expenses with its move to the American.
“The consumer wants it,” he said. “It could be a revenue stream that we have not had, at a time when we need a new revenue source. We believe it could open up a revenue stream in excess of six figures, annually.”
Beer sales were allowed at WSU’s Eck Stadium beginning in 1989 — to take advantage of a large crowd headed to a baseball game against Oklahoma State — when City Council members granted a 3.2-percent cereal malt beverage license to the stadium’s concessionaire.
Intrust Bank Arena concessions sell beer and mixed drinks during WSU’s annual men’s basketball game at the downtown arena, though beer is prohibited at NCAA events such as next March’s men’s basketball first- and second-round games. It will, however, be sold outside the arena in a fan-fest area.
Beer and mixed drinks are currently available at the Champions Club at Koch Arena and Eck Stadium’s All-American Club as part of a membership fee. WSU has around 100 two-person memberships for the Champions Club.
“It’s becoming more and more common,” Boatright said. “It’s not as if we would be a renegade off doing something else no one else does.”
WSU’s other athletic venues are Wilkins Stadium (softball), Cessna Stadium and the Heskett Center (track and field) and Coleman Tennis Complex. Koch Arena is also used for volleyball.
The concessionaire would choose the types of beer.
WSU will join the American Athletic Conference on July 1. Ten of the 11 American basketball (and other sports) members sell beer or alcohol at events, some of which are held in off-campus arenas or stadiums. East Carolina is the lone holdout with no beer or alcohol sales.
The University of Tulsa sells beer at football and men’s basketball games, both of which are played on campus. The school started sales in 2016, largely as a measure to keep football fans from leaving at halftime to drink at tailgate parties.
“We didn’t have any issues,” said Don Tomkalski, senior associate athletic director. “Any hiccups that we had we solved early in football season. It went well.”
In the Missouri Valley Conference, Bradley University and the University of Evansville offer beer and alcohol in their off-campus basketball arenas. Missouri State University started selling beer at men’s and women’s basketball games in January and plans to add football sales this fall.
Bradley and Missouri State play baseball at off-campus stadiums where beer is sold.
“It’s an additional revenue source for us,” MSU assistant director of athletics Rick Kindhart said. “We haven’t had any issues. At this point, we’re cautiously optimistic.”
The University of Kansas does not sell beer at events. Kansas State University sells beer at baseball games.
Most schools cut off sales near the end of games, and Boatright said he planned on similar rules at WSU events. Sales end after the seventh inning at Eck Stadium.
At Tulsa, sales end with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
“I think we would have a decrease in what it is brought in currently, which is much stronger alcohol content, if people knew they could buy (beer) here,” Boatright said. “To those who are sneaking it in, it could actually be a more manageable process.”
Alcohol sales around the AAC
Central Florida: Alcohol sold in premium seating areas and suites in football and basketball with plans for baseball sales.
Cincinnati: Beer sold at football, men’s basketball and baseball.
Connecticut: Beer sold at football and basketball games at off-campus stadiums. Beer is not sold at on-campus basketball games.
East Carolina: No alcohol sales.
Houston: Beer, liquor and wine sold at football and basketball. Beer and wine at other events.
Memphis: Beer sold at football and basketball games at off-campus sites. The campus is dry.
South Florida: Alcohol sold at all athletic events.
SMU: Beer sold at basketball and football games at on-campus venues.
Temple: Beer sold at basketball games at an on-campus arena operated by outside management and at an off-campus football stadium.
Tulane: Beer and alcohol sold at all events.
Tulsa: Beer sold at men’s basketball and football.