UW considers beer sales at athletic events to raise revenue

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LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming athletics department is considering allowing the sale of beer at sporting events to help make up for budget cuts.

"There's no chance of it happening this year, but there is more discussion amongst leadership, in athletics, at least, about whether it's time to push for it," Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman told the Casper Star-Tribune (http://bit.ly/2buqgkd ).

Burman says the option has to at least be considered given recent financial challenges facing the state, university and athletics department. The state has cut the university's budget by $35 million because of a decline in state revenue, and athletics has seen its budget cut.

"Our competition is doing it," Burman said. "We at least have to take a look at it. We are looking at every revenue stream very closely and every expense line item very closely, and we owe it to the citizenry of Wyoming to figure out how to generate more dollars."

Burman said the decision would require support from the board of trustees as well as university president Laurie Nichols.

As late as 2014, Burman didn't see beer sales as an option for Wyoming.

But major universities around the nation have started selling beer at sporting events. Ohio State will begin selling beer throughout the stadium this season. Pitt and Penn State recently allowed alcohol sales at sporting events to varying degrees.

Six other Mountain West Conference schools allow alcohol sales at games.

"The national picture has changed quite a bit," Burman said. "... We've been doing research, tracking what's going on nationally, and the number of schools that have added beer sales to the general admission area, the general access areas in football, in all sporting events, on campus, has increased dramatically."

Burman said allowing beer sales could attract younger fans in nearby cities like Cheyenne who might not have gone to UW and would need an added incentive to attend a game.

"I do believe that the expectation of a fan in the last decade has changed," he said. "It used to be that you could go to a sporting event, and some of them had beer. Now, it's the expectation. You go to Frontier Days, you go to every event in the Front Range — in college sports, I think everywhere except for the Air Force Academy has beer and wine."

Wyoming does allow alcohol sales in the Wildcatter Suites but not throughout War Memorial Stadium or the Arena-Auditorium.

Burman said his department is researching how much money might be gained from beer sales as well as other factors, such as safety.

At Wyoming, many fans must drive long distances to attend games in Laramie. Some stay overnight after a game while others hit the road.

That could affect the logistics of in-game alcohol sales.

"It may have an impact more on when you stop selling or how many you can sell to an individual person," Burman said. "If you go to some venues right now, you can buy unlimited number of beers during an event. Some places you can only buy four beers during an event, and you can never buy more than two (at a time). So, we would have to look at all of those when we decide if we want to go forward with it."


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

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