Mustang fans seeking a nice cold brew on game day will have to look beyond Ford Stadium for a drink.
Despite a recommendation proposed last year, alcoholic drinks like beer and wine will not be sold at Ford Stadium on game days.
“Selling alcohol in Ford Stadium might have pulled a few fans off of the Boulevard and into the stadium, but SMU students should come support their team and alma mater regardless of what is sold in the stadium,” said Tyler Scott, senior and Student Representative to the Athletics Committee of SMU Board of Trustees.
Alcohol sales have been banned from game day activities for years. No liquor is permitted during tailgating and patrons of age must provide their own alcohol for consumption, subject to regulation. A push for stadium beer sales at SMU has been in the works for almost a year.
A special task force met in March 2012 to consider ways to increase game day attendance, enhance fan experience and maximize athletics revenue. Named “The President’s Task Force on Athletics Marketing, Attendance and Community Outreach,” the group considered alcohol sales, among many other recommendations, to achieve these goals.
“Many [recommendations] were implemented immediately, while work began, and continues, on those that required further investigation,” Assistant Athletic Director Brad Sutton said. “We continue to evaluate possible improvements from game-to-game and season-to-season.”
Sutton said the task force researched past successes and failures of both SMU and other university sporting events to reach their final decision.
“The group met over summer 2012, researching [things like] college sports attendance records, promotional best practices and the current sports marketing landscape,” Sutton said.
Making alcoholic beverages available for purchase at Ford Stadium was a major campaign issue in last year’s Student Body Officer Elections. Candidates for Student Body President and Vice President made this a central plank of their platforms.
According to a New York Daily News report, seven of eight schools in the Big East and 36 Division I schools nationwide already sell alcohol inside their school stadiums. The latest to permit alcohol sales, West Virginia University, estimated between $500,000 and $1.2 million in revenue from in-stadium purchases.
But for SMU, the consideration wasn’t about the money. Officials hoped alcohol sales would get more fans in the game.
“The President’s Task Force on Athletics Marketing, Attendance and Community Outreach recommends initiatives that would increase attendance at all SMU athletic events, focusing on SMU alumni and current students as well as the broader Dallas Community,” Sutton said.
A steady decrease in attendance from quarter to quarter is typical of any sporting event. At SMU halftime – midway through the third quarter – droves of attendees leave the game.
Offering students over 21, alumni and Dallas community fans a drink between plays seemed like one viable option to “Fill the Ford.” While alcohol sales may not be available this year at the Stadium, it’s a recommendation still being given a lot of thought.
A requirement for appropriate licensing and approval from University Park, among other regulations reportedly held up the decision, but the Athletic Department continues to look for additional recommendations to help improve the game
SMU fans can look forward to a new “Hall of Champions” seating club and seven luxury suites at the Ford. The first home game is scheduled for Saturday, Aug 30 against Texas Tech University.