Alcohol sales at UWRF sporting events not on the agenda, officials say

Posted October 11, 2016

Despite some universities now allowing the sale and consumption of alcohol before or during sporting events, UW-River Falls does not appear ready to join them.

A tailgating policy was put into place in the summer of 2015 that doesn’t allow any alcohol, even in the parking lot outside the stadium. Interim Athletic Director Crystal Lanning said she thinks that without the approval to have a presence of alcohol, it would be a tough battle to have sales.

“It hasn’t been explored at this time,” Lanning said.

The concept is relatively new to college sports, especially at the Division III level. Only a couple dozen major Division I universities have started selling beer in the past three years. Each school that has done it has exclusively limited it to one sport before expanding to other venues.

Lanning said that the same holds true for smaller schools.

“Most schools that introduce it, introduce it at one arena,” Lanning said. Those schools start with one sport and see how it goes.

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse began selling beer at its home football games this year. Like the other schools, it too will limit it to football before expanding to any other sporting events on campus. UW-La Crosse’s policy limits consumption of alcohol to parking lots designated for tailgating before the games. The lots, according to the UW-La Crosse Athletics website, are regularly patrolled by campus police.

At TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus in the Twin Cities, beer and wine sales have been allowed since 2012.

UW-River Falls Student Senate President Chris Morgan said that the idea of alcohol at sporting events has never officially been discussed or even brought to his attention. However, there are some early talks about the possibility of serving alcohol at Pete’s Creek Diner in the basement of the University Center.

Right now, talks are very preliminary and would involve sending out a survey to see how students feel about the idea. Morgan did share some thoughts on how it could work, “maybe a partnership with a local brewery like Rush River,” Morgan said.

“Just, you know, having it so that if you’re 21 you can grab dinner and a beer downstairs,” he added.

There are some possible challenges that could come along with alcohol, if it were to ever be approved.

“How do you monitor the fact that, you know, we’re complying with state law and making sure that anyone who’s under 21 is not consuming alcohol?” Morgan said. Morgan also brought up behavioral issues and maintenance of the facilities as a couple more roadblocks that he sees.

One of the benefits that Morgan brought up was that it could be used an educational component of drinking responsibly.

“Implementing the right culture would be huge,” Morgan said.

A lot of the schools that are selling alcohol have made it available only in certain areas of their respective venues. That policy can control consumption and gives fans an ability to stay away from it if they choose.

“I know some places have designated areas and people feel a little more comfortable with that,” Lanning said.

Lanning has never done a full analysis of the possibility of alcohol at sporting events and doesn’t know if a discussion is near or not. For now, fans will have to keep their consumption away from campus.