WSU is set to start selling beer in the vast majority of sections at Martin Stadium for football games this fall, according to a report by Cougfan.com.
It appears the only section that won’t be able to purchase alcohol is the student section. (No surprise there.)
Early response on social media indicates this is an incredibly welcome policy shift for fans. But if the Cougfan report is accurate — and there’s no reason to believe it’s not — it comes with some trade-offs.
First, the time-honored tradition of running to your car during halftime to refuel with as much alcohol as possible — which, of course, was due to the no alcohol policy in the stadium — will cease to exist, as WSU will be implementing a no re-entry policy.
If you’re a person who attends a lot of other sporting events at other stadiums, the vast majority of which already don’t allow re-entry, you’re probably shrugging. But some long-time season ticket holders probably will grumble to some degree about being required to keep their buzz going with an $8-ish beer.
Second, if you’re picky about your beer ... you’re probably not going to find Coors’ “high-end” offerings of Blue Moon or Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy to be a great value for your $8.
Third, if you think running to the car during halftime is a young person’s game and you’ve spent years refining your creative ways to mule alcohol into the stadium, expect enforcement at the gate to be more intrusive.
But if you don’t mind paying a lot for beer and you don’t really care what’s in the cup as long as it’s got alcohol in it, you’re probably ecstatic about this news. And if the club/suite section — where alcohol already was sold — is any indication, there are a lot of you who fit into that category.
So many, in fact, that Cougfan reports the athletic department anticipates an additional $1 million in net revenue from alcohol sales at its seven home games. If that seems like an enormous number ... well, it is, and despite the enthusiasm of those who take great pride in WSU fans’ prodigious ability to drink, there’s actually reason to think that might be a tad optimistic.
We did a little back-of-the-napkin math to try and gauge whether a cool million might be possible.
@COUGFANcom so here's the math I'm doing in my head: 35k people but a third of them are underage and 2k sit where they already sell.— Kyle Sherwood (@BigWoodWSU) August 17, 2016
@COUGFANcom so you're looking to sell to 20k people over 7 games assuming every game sells out— Kyle Sherwood (@BigWoodWSU) August 17, 2016
@COUGFANcom $1M in gross revenue is 125k beers sold to $140k people. So you're averaging a beer per person all year just to hit gross.— Kyle Sherwood (@BigWoodWSU) August 17, 2016
@COUGFANcom netting $1M seems unrealistic unless every of-age person buys three beers a game— Kyle Sherwood (@BigWoodWSU) August 17, 2016
.@BigWoodWSU Sources tell CFC gross revenue estimated at $1.67 million. WSU expected to net 60 percent of gross. (1 of 2)— COUGFANcom (@COUGFANcom) August 17, 2016
.@BigWoodWSU Sales estimates based on studies of WSU, Cougville trends, additional factors, w/ estimated 20K fans purchasing beer. (2 of 2)— COUGFANcom (@COUGFANcom) August 17, 2016
(By the way, Cougville is a place you can still go during halftime ... to purchase $8 beers.)
For what it’s worth, this New York Times story that took a look at West Virginia’s beer sales found that its best-case scenario was 30,000 beers at a game. That means WSU is counting on averaging WVU’s high water mark in a stadium that’s just a shade under 60 percent the size. That makes 30,000 seem high, but I don’t doubt for a minute that WSU did its due diligence to figure out just what the haul would be if it went with a policy shift that has historically been frowned upon in the Pac-10/12.
Even if $1 million ends up overshooting the mark, anything is a boost for an athletic department that needs all the money it can get.
Other questions still remain, such as this big one: Will Cougar fans be able to behave themselves? That’s going to be key as to whether beer sales continue after this season. Expect alcohol enforcement to be strict in this maiden voyage, because the Pac-12 will most certainly be watching.
At least one member of the football team welcomes what figures to be an even more rowdy atmosphere at Martin Stadium: