According to the agenda for Wednesday’s University of Oklahoma Board of Regents meeting, OU president James Gallogly will recommend the expansion of alcohol sales at Oklahoma Sooners sporting events. If the proposal is accepted, alcohol will be available at men’s and women’s basketball games in 2018-19, and football, baseball and softball in 2019. Other events will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Currently, alcohol sales are only available in the club areas of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and Lloyd Noble Center.
As Gallogly and others have mentioned in the past, the motivation for this measure is the overall stadium experience as opposed to the direct profits from sales (which are often minimal in other cases). Essentially, the idea is that the widespread sale of alcoholic beverages will make game attendance an easier sell for years to come.
I’m in favor of this for a number of reasons:
- As the in-home viewing experience continues to improve, the motivation to attend games — and deal with the hassles that can accompany the experience — declines for some people. It’s important to make it an easier sell, and this is the kind of thing that helps.
- Contrary to what Nancy Grace’s viewers will try to tell you, no one is going to trip over your baby’s stroller, vomit in your lap or try to pass a beer to your kid while you aren’t looking. Your family will be fine.
- Fans sitting in the club areas are able to handle themselves with alcohol, but the unwashed masses simply can’t be trusted? The current message is kind of shitty, don’t you think?
- The schools that currently have this in place aren’t making a killing from the sales, but they also aren’t experiencing a heightened frequency of alcohol-related incidents. Many fans already enter the game feeling pretty good after some time spent at Campus Corner or the tailgates, and something as weak as domestic beer isn’t going to push too many of them over the edge. If they do go over the edge whilst inside, it’ll probably be due to the liquor he/she sneaks into the stadium.
- While this will be nice for the experience at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, this could have a an especially important impact on attendance for other sports. Personally, I try to attend quite a few hoops games at the LNC every season, but I will probably be present for more of them if I can enjoy a beer at my seat. That’s certainly not the case for everyone, but it is for some of us. It certainly won’t hurt attendance.
Anyway, I expect the regents to do the right thing. The fact that Oklahoma State, Texas and others already have this in place relieves quite a bit of the potential pressure associated with this decision, so I’d be shocked if this isn’t approved.