If you know me, you know that in my regular job (the bowling business) and in my part-time job at Cowboys Stadium, alcohol sales are involved. Whether it's a 200 person league/open play session or 87 thousand in Arlington watching the Dallas Cowboys in a NFL matchup, it's not uncommon to witness people consume beer and other spirits while partaking in either watching or participating in certain things.
So, when I read this piece from Tuesday on Shawn Eichorst's comments on SportsNightly on the Pinnacle network, I was interested in a lot of comments. However, this one was something that bothered me a touch.
>> Don’t expect alcohol sales at Pinnacle Bank arena when the Husker men and women’s basketball teams play there starting next fall. Eichorst said he’s had no talks about sales. At Creighton games in the Century Link Center, beer sales are allowed.
"We’ve had a great history and tradition relative to the things that we do in and around our games," Eichorst said. "And I think that those things are working well. I don’t think our histories and traditions lends ourselves to heading in that direction. And I’d like to reinforce that those sort of conversations aren’t happening over in the Osborne building. But I understand the relevance and intrigue."
Now, I'm not a guy that really likes putting everything on it's ear. However, it's rather bothersome to me that these comments came at this time, unless the thought of Tom Osborne being in the AD's office had something to do with this statement (my money, it did).
So, Brian Rosenthal felt the urge to ask this question on twitter on Sunday afternoon:
What do you think? Should Nebraska sell beer at basketball games at Pinnacle Bank? journalstar.com/sports/huskers…— Brian Rosenthal (@HuskerExtraBR) February 17, 2013
Some answers that he got included:
@huskerextrabr not when the legal limit is 21. If players aren't old enough, fans shouldn't be able either.— Steve White (@NTVsSteveWhite) February 17, 2013
I tweeted Mr. White about how he felt about Stars/Lancers/Storm games in the USHL selling alcohol while no player in the league is over the age of 21. He hasn't answered me there, but when he does I'll make sure to add it.
@huskerextrabr Absolutely yes. I think it'll put butts in seats. Might loosen up a crowd that's reluctant to be loud. Pros outweigh cons.— Jared Jacobi (@jaredjacobi) February 17, 2013
@huskerextrabr Yes. Eventually I think Eichorst will come around to it.— Erik Burkhart (@HuskerInsanity) February 17, 2013
Now, in my experience of being in a arena with alcohol, you must be able to make the staff of an arena or any place that serves spirits in good training in both selling beverages and judging who has and hasn't partaken in too much alcohol for the day/evening. To do this, most if not all arenas/stadiums employ specific concession companies that take over the whole concession part of the gameday/event experience, as well as all the responsibility that comes with alcohol service.
While most restaurant/bars obviously employ their own staff, both those staffs as well as staff's for said concession companies are required to be state and/or city certified in serving. You don't have that certification, you can't pour at a bar or a concession, period. Do places skimp on this? They can, but the liability of having that one person who dies in a alcohol related accident keeps you from ignoring this for a while.
How does all the above come to deal with PBA? Simple... fans like to be given the opportunity or choice to purchase alcohol at a sporting event. There's never been a case at Cowboys Stadium, or American Airlines Arena, or Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, or Pershing Auditorium or the Ice Box or anywhere I've been when the ENTIRE staff has ignored the whole crowd and allowed them to get bombed. Furthermore, I've seen the times that someone does partake in too much and ends up intoxicated are not taken care of when the staff knows what is going on.
So, to say that a event would become a total drunk fest isn't a good argument to really make. Now, would you be wise in making sure that you have non-alcohol sections for families? I wouldn't mind that type of concession, as most Major League Baseball clubs and such have these.
The money part? This is simple math:
If -- IF -- Nebraska ever sold beer at Pinnacle, the athletic department would get 50 percent of the beer revenue.— Brian Rosenthal (@HuskerExtraBR) February 17, 2013
So, the Nebraska AD gets 50% of all revenue? Lets break that down...
Lets say that a 16 ounce plastic/aluminum bottle of Bud Light or such costs the patron $8 dollars. Cost on that bottle (with a text to Randy Wilson, owner of Randy's Grill and Chill and The Spigot in Lincoln) is .88 cents. So, without taxes added, the cost the consumer is paying is $7.51 (.49 cents tax included in the price). So, $7.51 minus .88 is $6.63 per bottle of domestic beer. The AD gets half of that immediately, so that's $3.31 (fractions, but we'll round for tonight).
So with 2000 bottles of alcohol sold on a given Nebraska Basketball evening (that's a low number, but example here), that is $13,260 of clean revenue in sales one night, not including any suite sales at all. Automatically, $980 bucks of sales (not counted in revenue) goes to the city/state in taxes. That money goes into the investment of the arena itself.
Out of said $13,620, half goes right to the AD. That is $6810. The other half goes to whatever said company you hire for alcohol/concessions. That near seven thousand dollars would basically allow you to, given you're paying approximately $9/hour for their gameday jobs, would cover 100 concession workers every event. So, not only would the AD pay less for wages and such, but they would also get an extra $217,920 for the department (32 games at $6810 per game, mens and womens b-ball games).
Those numbers aren't huge when you see the whole picture of money for the UNL AD. However, since the average Basketball, Volleyball, and Baseball fan spends almost $15/person on concessions at a game, adding this could definitely make this number go up.
There are many colleges and such allowing alcoholic sales in their arenas. Century Link Center in Omaha, where UNO Hockey and Creighton Basketball calls home, allows sales during NCAA events. Does it help attendance? I wouldn't think you would find a fan of either sport that says it doesn't hurt it. The casual fan doesn't mind it, and it's a nice option for any fan that wishes to partake.
Furthermore, people are going to drink before events. Whether in downtown Lincoln before a football game, in a bar in the Haymarket before a game at PBA or in downtown Omaha near the CenturyLink, people are going to drink before and after the event. Heck, how many of you have passed out for a smoke during a Husker FB game to only grab a quick beer at the tailgate before the second half? Wouldn't you stay if you could purchase something there? (Not to say there needs to be selling of spirits in Memorial Stadium at this time) If you can get people in your doors at PBA to purchase that extra drink or such, it means not only are they in your stadium, but they will explore and purchase things in, say, the gift shop or maybe other things, food especially.
Finally, we all know that Pinnacle Bank Arena will host non-Nebraska events, things like concerts and indoor football and etc. Putting alcohol sales with Husker events would not only give you that extra revenue, but give more hours and jobs to people during events, and then give each person more experience with selling and managing alcohol sales for the arena. Win/win, if you ask me.
We don't need it immediately, but gosh darn it Mr. Eichorst, realize that more than a fair share of folks wouldn't mind it at all.