Does Cougar football need more… alcohol?

IF YOU THINK the Pac-12 TV money is enough that Washington State (and others) don't feel an overwhelming need for more revenue streams, consider this: Texas, the school that pulls in more than anyone else in college football by a wide margin, has decided to sell beer at Longhorn sporting events including football. The question now becomes can the Cougs afford not to expand their alcohol sales?

Right now, WSU allows alcohol sales only in the premium seating area during football games, (suites, loge boxes, outdoor and indoor club seats.) Most schools who decided to sell alcohol followed a similar model until recent years. Now, more and more are opening up sales, in designated areas, to anyone of legal age in the stadium.

So should Washington State follow Texas' lead? A Texas spokesperson said last week that 27 universities now allow alcohol sales in general seating. Some, like Minnesota, determined over time there was "no significant increase" in alcohol-related incidents.

Minnesota last year took in $182,000 in profits from beer and wine sales, and put it all right back into athletics. Texas is estimated to rake in $1M in combined profits from football and other sports, with football naturally producing the lion's share.

Washington State's profits from expanding alcohol sales would likely be smaller given Martin Stadium's capacity, (Minnesota's stadium holds 50,000, Texas' 101,000) but the net revenues on such a venture are only expected to rise. Still, there are other considerations when it comes to WSU.

A good deal of WSU fans have a longer drive home after the game than do other schools. Having fans in line or congregating over a drink at the start of the third quarter isn't as beneficial to the home team as would having their butts in the seats.

IF WASHINGTON STATE wants to increase their revenue and profits when it comes to alcohol sales, one longtime CF.C poster told me the Cougs should instead look at expanding and enhancing the experience in the Field House before games.

Making it easier and more comfortable for alums to share pre-game drinks in the Field House, similar to how Oregon does things at the Moshofsky Center, would go a long ways, he said.

Sales to the general seating crowd seems almost inevitable, though. A number of schools were already strongly considering beer, wine and spirits sales and Texas' move is virtually guaranteed to accelerate that process. Many more schools will surely jump in to try and keep up with the Joneses.

For the Cougs, the challenge will be to find the right balance. Everyone wants less alcohol-related incidents, not more. At the same time, no one wants to take a pass on a revenue stream that the competition will be tapping.

So what's the right solution for the Cougs? Click to the CF.C Luxury Suites and CF.C Football Board to weigh in.

  • A Texas spokesperson insisted the sale of beer and wine at all remaining basketball, baseball and softball games along with the tentative agreement to sell beer at football games was not about revenue but instead aimed at "enhancing the fan experience." That enhanced fan experience will cost fans $8 a glass.

  • The Register-Guard reported dozens of fans at Oregon football games are typically ejected by police every game with most involving intoxicated people. Those casting a critical eye point to the alcohol served at the Moshofsky Center as a key contributor. But while Oregon has a reputation for unlimited funds from booster Phil Knight, the school made more than $500,000 off of beer and wine sales as far back as in 2008 according to the Oregonian.

  • After the spring sports seasons, Texas says they'll evaluate whether alcohol should be sold at football games. Most media observers seemed to think it will be a slam dunk. Interestingly, no sales will be permitted during the spring football game. Last year's Longhorn spring game drew a reported 46,000 fans.

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