U brings in $900K in alcohol sales at TCF

Beer sales at TCF Bank Stadium nearly doubled projected totals.
December 12, 2012

The University of Minnesota brought in more than $907,000 in alcohol sales at TCF Bank Stadium this season.

Gross sales for each of the Gophers’ seven home games averaged $129,610, University officials said.

The University is working on a budget report on the stadium’s alcohol sales factoring in expenses, which associate athletics director Scott Ellison said should be finished within the next few weeks.

The University’s athletics department will receive any revenue generated from the alcohol sales.

Ellison said the University sold between 12,000 and 13,000 cups of beer at each game — way up from the projected total of 7,000 cups per game. He said the total number of servings from the season is not available yet.

Around the stadium, 64 places sold alcohol, including  two points at the west end of the stadium and  four beer tents that lined the west plaza beneath the main scoreboard. Sales began an hour before kickoff and ran through halftime each game.

Ellison said the west plaza location worked well. The University made only a few small changes to the logistics of sales during the season. Ellison said it added two portable carts with beer cans a few weeks into the season to serve fans outside Gate A, the overflow area within the concourse of the stadium.

Minnesota’s night game against Syracuse brought in the highest gross sales total of the season at $164,927. The game was also the Gophers’ only sellout, with an announced crowd of 50,805.

The Gophers’ last home game, against Michigan State, made the least in alcohol sales at $97,109. Attendance for the game was listed at 44,194.

Ellison said fans gave mostly positive feedback about selling alcohol at the stadium. He said there were complaints about beer spills and the feeling of being squeezed on the west plaza with the addition of beer tents.

Incidents hit all-time low

The University first discussed the idea of serving alcohol after the Legislature considered allowing alcohol sales at TCF Bank Stadium.

The University, after trying to limit alcohol sales to premium seats, compromised with the Legislature on selling to all fans.

The public and the University’s administration were apprehensive about selling alcohol at TCF Bank Stadium, University police Lt. Erik Swanson said, but alcohol didn’t end up having a negative impact.

The stadium saw fewer incidents this season than in any of its previous three seasons, Swanson said.

There were 56 police enforcement incidents this year, down 10 from a year ago and down nearly 50 from 2010.

Swanson said he thought a combination of factors led to the decrease.

In previous years, fans knew they couldn’t drink inside the stadium, so they arrived at games already drunk.

This year, fans knew they could drink at the stadium and thus arrived in a better state, Swanson said.

The stadium’s high prices may have also kept people from drinking too much alcohol, Swanson said — beer and wine went for $7.25 each.

Because the beer tents were located in the west plaza, students had to walk to the opposite end of the stadium to buy a maximum of two drinks at a time.

Ellison said the University’s alcohol work team will meet in January to discuss changes for next season.

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