TERRY COLUMN: Beer down, Arizona
If you’re going to ask people to sit in the open desert for four hours, you might as well let them enjoy a cold beverage.
That’s what the University of Arizona determined on Friday when it announced it will be adding alcohol sales during football games this fall at Arizona Stadium. They added it to basketball games in December.
The Wildcats join Arizona State and three other Pac-12 conference schools in adding beer and wine sales at games, a group that is about three dozen nationwide.
It’s all in an effort to get more people into games, with Wildcats games typically seeing thousands of empty seats on Saturdays in the fall.
Part of that, of course is due to the product on the field. Arizona has been mediocre to bad at football for most of its existence, finishing a season in the AP top 10 just twice in 85 years.
Yet, even as the team rode its meteoric success last season and quarterback Khalil Tate became a national phenomenon, the Wildcats had 15,000 empty seats for its homecoming game against Washington State.
So, as it tries to build a winning tradition, the university might as well reward the fans who made the effort to show up and pay money when the team was bad.
There are obviously a bunch of hazards in adding alcohol at any sporting event, let alone one that is contested in a stadium filled with underage spectators. The university says it will be cutting off sales after the third quarter and increasing security inside the stadium.
U of A should do everything it can to prevent underage drinking and prevent those of age from being overserved, as is the case in many NFL stadiums.
But, we all know this won’t be the first time alcohol has entered the stadium. Colleges, especially the two in the Grand Canyon State, aren’t necessarily known for being bastions of sobriety.
This isn’t making a huge sweeping change of the landscape on football Saturdays. What it is doing is monetizing some of that debauchery and allowing the university to get some control over the issue. In fact, other universities of similar size that implemented alcohol sales at games reported no change or noted a slight decrease in alcohol-related fan misbehavior.
If done right, this can add to the gameday experience in Tucson. If it helps get butts in seats, well, Beer Down.
Joseph Terry is the Assistant Editor for the Today’s News-Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com.