In a Recession, Beer=$$

14 09 2009

As university endowments plunge and school investments diminish, colleges across the country are grappling with how to react to the current economic crisis.  Schools are doing everything from  increasing class size to cutting costs by laying off professors, freezing hiring, and offering fewer courses and academic services, according to a recent US News report(http://tinyurl.com/bdshkj)

Schools are also raising tuition and other costs.  This means that students and their parents are paying more money out of pocket while the quality of their education deteriorates.

One novel answer to this economic dilemma: schools should sell beer to students and season ticketholders inside their stadiums.

A radical idea, considering the sensitive topic of on-campus binge drinking; however, a number of schools are turning to the option as they find themselves groping for a new source of revenue. 

According to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the city-owned Liberty Bowl Memorial, home to the University of Memphis, are two of the latest schools to sell beer within their walls. 

The Swamp at University of LA, Lafayette

The "Swamp" at University of LA, Lafayette (http://tinyurl.com/nt59gd)

“About three dozen of the 120 largest NCAA Division 1 schools allow beer sales inside their stadiums,” said Jeff D. Opdyke and David Kesmodel in their WSJ article, Beer Sales Make a Comeback at College Stadiums(http://tinyurl.com/n7r6vp)

Though the majority of universities are staying away from this enterprise for fear of appearing to endorse student drinking, the schools who do sell alcohol in their stadiums are taking serious measures to prevent any underage drinking or drunken disorder.  These include: permitting sales of alcohol only until halftime, serious and continuous ID checks, selling beer limited to 3.2% alcohol/volume, and serving beer in clear cups for easy identification, said Opdyke and Kesmodel.

But is all this effort worth it?   

The city of Memphis is expecting beer sales in Liberty Bowl to result in an extra $200,000 this season, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette foresees an extra income of about $130,000, according to the article.

This isn’t surprising, as beer is a staple of the average college student diet.  Students have been known to forego buying books, and even food, to keep their beer fund thriving.

So if they will be buying and drinking – most likely unsupervised while tailgating outside the stadium gates – why shouldn’t schools sell alcohol to students in a more controlled environment and in a manner in which both parties can economically benefit?

Of course, with the growing influence of MADD and university legal advisors, the chance of this becoming a national trend is slim. But as noted in the article linked above,

“City leaders and school administrators ‘have to think progressively and look for every opportunity to find new income,” without increasing taxes or imposing more fees, said Jack Sammons, chief administrative officer for the city of Memphis.

…Who knew that a Solo cup held so much possibility?

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15 09 2013
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