It’s time. Again.
The call for in-stadium alcohol sales at Jack Trice Stadium is not a new one. Over the course of the last 10 or so years, alcohol sales have become evermore common at college athletic events. The original exception was if a college program played their games at a venue that wasn’t owned/operated by the school (such as an NFL stadium), alcohol sales were permitted. But then in the Never-Ending Pursuit of Additional Revenue, college campuses came up with the brilliant idea to …*gasp*… ALLOW ALCOHOL SALES AT SPORTING EVENTS.
To everyone’s shock and surprise, college athletics is still functioning even with evil alcohol money coursing through its veins. Some might say that the actual threat to college athletics is the Never-Ending Pursuit of Additional Revenue, but we will kick that can of worms down the road for another day.
This time, the reason for the renewed calls for in-stadium alcohol sales isn’t solely in the name of the Never-Ending Pursuit of Additional Revenue. While it certainly would bring Additional Revenue to Iowa State, that is not the primary motivation this time. This time it is in the name of NIL.
If as an Iowa State fan and you weren’t aware, the WeWill Collective (Iowa State’s NIL fundraising entity), partnered with West O Beer to sell Ames Lager. Brent Blum, Executive Director of the WeWill Collective, has said that a couple dollars from every “case equivalent” (24 12oz beers) sold will go to the Collective and from there, the players. For a fanbase that is known to drink towns dry of their easy-drinking beer, this is great news. Brent has expressed how difficult this entire process was from trademark/licensing, legal, brewer, distribution, etc. It’s clearly not an easy task to make a new beer and distribute it nearly statewide. For that, Brent and West O deserve our thanks and appreciation in the form of us buying and drinking a shit ton of Ames Lager.
Because the only thing better than Ames water is Ames Lager!— WeWillCollective (@WeWillCllective) June 27, 2023
The We Will Collective is excited to partner with @westobeer on this refreshing American lager. Proceeds of each Ames Lager will be donated to the We Will Collective.
Available later this summer! pic.twitter.com/adb1NJdly9
And dear reader, I think you know where an ideal place to do that is at. At Jack Trice Stadium or Hilton Coliseum.
You may ask, “Can Iowa State even do that?” And that’s a fair question, cause hell if I know the actual legal answer. But what I can tell you is that the University of Iowa is doing it.
Exile Brewing has confirmed that the Swarm Golden Ale will be available in Kinnick Stadium this fall. https://t.co/XXXFWb6UXD— David Eickholt (@DavidEickholt) June 28, 2023
Your next question might be, “Are they only selling in the premium seating area, like our Sukup Endzone or Johnny’s?” My assumption is it will be sold in the premium areas in Iowa City and Ames. The big difference is that the University of Iowa allows full in-stadium alcohol sales. So safe to assume the Swarm Collective beer will be sold throughout the stadium as well.
Full credit to the Swarm Collective by the way. They seem to be on the NIL/Collective forefront of raising money for their players. While WeWill may have the perception of following in their footsteps, this is something WeNeed to copy.
With all that said, most of us are aware of how Jamie Pollard feels about this. He’s been previously quoted as saying, “Our position has not changed,” he wrote. “We are not interested in changing our current position on alcohol sales during home athletic events.” And referring to gameday police reports, “enough idiots that do things that make you go ‘My gosh, what were they thinking?’ And to put on top of that alcohol throughout the stadium would get rid of any moral high ground.”
Seemingly, there is a steep hill to climb to accomplish full in-stadium alcohol sales at Iowa State. But at one point, that was exactly the case at the University of Iowa. In 2018 Almost-Former Iowa AD Gary Barta said, “I would never begin selling beer or alcohol because of increased revenue”.
Narrator: Within three years, the University of Iowa began selling beer and alcohol for increased revenue.
While being incredibly hypocritical, that’s not purely a dig at the Almost-Former AD. Circumstances changed since that quote and Iowa did what they thought they had to do. Those circumstances being that the COVID pandemic deeply affected their athletic revenue. In comes the Never-Ending Pursuit of Additional Revenue to the rescue.
Beginning in 2021, the UofI started selling alcohol stadium-wide. In 2021, the program cumulatively generated over $3 million, $2.4 million from Kinnick, and $600k at Carver. The net intake was $1.13 million with 30% of that going to UI Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee. After the season was over Iowa took a survey where, “82% of respondents reported expanded beer and wine sales at Kinnick Stadium had either a positive impact (43%) or no impact (39%) on the overall game day experience.”
But what about all the drunkards that are storming their moral high ground? With only one year as a sample size, the drunken nonsense was LESS: “The UI Department of Public Safety (DPS) issued 24 game day citations during seven home dates at Kinnick Stadium in 2021. The previous five-year average (2015-19) was 33 citations per year, and the five-year average from 2010-14 was 397 citations per year. Fans did not attend games in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The point being that Jamie Pollard might still have room to change his mind as circumstances have changed again. NIL is now here and this goes a long way in being competitive in the current landscape. If you want to compete with your big in-state rival, this is low-hanging fruit. Additional innovation and creativity from the Collective is also vital, but the Iowa State administration can and should help when and where they can. This is a fairly simple way to do that. Iowa State is currently undertaking a comparatively risky and complicated venture with CyTown in the Never-Ending Pursuit of Additional Revenue. And rightfully so! In-stadium alcohol sales is an easy step to take in the Never-Ending Pursuit of Additional Revenue.
I don’t know how much this would generate for WeWill if Ames Lager is sold in-stadium. My initial thought would be that WeWill can’t collect on the additional markup at the stadium as then it involves the money coming from the school? Or perhaps they are allowed to “lease” a certain amount of space in the stadium to capitalize on the additional markup? I’ll leave those messy details for Mr. Blum to iron out.
If Mr. Pollard does not want to give up that moral high ground, then there is not much to argue with. That’s his belief regardless of the Never-Ending Pursuit of Additional Revenue. All I can do is relay my experience as a fan and the experience of other Cyclone fans. This is something we very much want.
If Mr. Pollard is worried about negatively affecting the tailgate atmosphere, I say bull hockey. If anything, CyTown will affect the tailgating atmosphere more than selling alcohol. Some people will leave their traditional tailgates in favor of CyTown all while being more spread out. While most appreciate the freedom to leave at halftime and return, overall I would say it hurts the stadium atmosphere. Most aren't back in their seats until well after the second half has begun. Many students don’t even return. And if they went back to their tailgates, what do we think they are doing? Certainly not binge drinking! But hey, at least you didn't cede your moral high ground by selling it to them. You just put on the event and allowed it. Moral high ground saved!
Will people abuse alcohol at a football game? Of course. Will it be more or less than it is already? I don’t know. It worked for Iowa for a year and hopefully this past season as well. Optimistically, if done the right way and priced correctly, you may actually limit overall consumption.
This isn't a call for us fans to recklessly drink in-stadium in the name of the Never-Ending Pursuit of Additional Revenue. The vast majority of us want to drink responsibly and support our program and its players. If there is an opportunity to do all that at the same time, it’s well past time to take it.