The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

August 24, 2011

$UD$

WVU taking big risks to garner revenue beer sales will bring in

West Virginia University football fans will have the option of ponying up between $7 and $9 for a beer at Milan Puskar Stadium concession stands this fall.

Athletic Director Oliver Luck announced last Thursday that Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and Morgantown Brewing Co. will supply beer at 51 locations throughout the stadium.

The driver for this decision, revealed earlier this year by Luck, and passed by the West Virginia's Board of Governors in June, is money.

Luck has said he thinks the decision will generate about $1 million per season.

While no one will deny that drinking has become a part of the culture of tailgating before college football games, it doesn’t make sense to offer beer inside the gates for Mountaineer football games.

According to a recent article in the Des Moines Register titled “Is it time for colleges to tap the keg?”, “Beer will be sold this fall to fans at 20 of 119 major college venues — twice as many as 10 years ago — according to responses from all Division I-A universities and the nation’s sports information directors.”

To generate this added revenue, is WVU assuming responsibility by establishing its own alcohol policy at its own facility?

If so, it’s seems to be a rarity among it peers.

And a risky move.

What happens if a game attendee is charged with drunken driving that leads to a death afterward?

Will the school be sued by the victim’s family?

Legal fees alone could eat up a season’s worth of beer profits.

Not to mention the loss of a life.

Beer sales are slated to end midway through the third quarter; is this not an obvious attempt to assist drinkers in sobering up for the drive home? Or at least an acknowledgment that some drivers will be drinking?

With the majority of underclassmen under the legal drinking age of 21, it can’t be students that provide additional cash flow.

So whose wallet is WVU after?

In a prepared statement in June, Luck said, “I believe we have taken a step forward toward our goal of a safer, friendlier and more civil game day experience.”

But that’s assuming that fans will wait to begin their imbibing until after going through the gates.

Fans not eager to pay $9 for a beer will likely still sneak in their own brew. So hoping for a completely controlled environment for beer consumption is fantasy.

WVU also introduced its “The High Five Rules of the Game” last Thursday.

It reads:

1. No excessive drinking — intoxicated fans are not allowed inside or outside the stadium.

2. No foul or abusive language.

3. No smoking in the seating or concourse areas.

4. No ignoring of the instructions of Event/Security personnel.

Good luck with all four of these “rules” — because it won’t only be the neighborhood 7-Eleven and Sheetz stores providing the suds now.

Maybe that’s the wallet that WVU wants access to.

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