Alcohol sales may explain game sellouts

Peruna's Kitchen
Peruna’s Kitchen is one location fans can buy alcohol inside Moody Coliseum. Photo credit: Ryan Miller

From hosting apartment parties to gathering at bars, college students at SMU find ways to cope with having a “dry campus.”

Boulevarding before home football games is by far the most popular campus event, mostly because it is exempt from the no alcohol on campus rule. At the game itself, however, Ford Stadium is an alcohol-free zone, and the stands are far from packed.

This fall, SMU announced its decision to allow certain alcoholic beverages at basketball home games in the newly renovated Moody Coliseum — a project that cost approximately $47 million.

Beer and wine sales were implemented this spring, and seemed to attract many more fans than past basketball events.

Senior Ally Totah is one of many SMU students who enjoys athletic events because of their social appeal, and thinks that selling alcohol draws more fans because the sale adds to that aspect.

“A lot of students look for places where they can drink as places to gather and have social events and I think this is a much more positive atmosphere to do that at,” Totah said. “I think it promotes something pretty great and really increases attendance at the games.”

Although the opportunity to enjoy beer or wine at basketball games may have increased attendance and peaked interest, Student Body President Ramon Trespalacios who has been to every home game this season is confident that alcohol is not the only reason more fans are attending games.

“What I like the most is you can tell the fans are not there for the beer,” Trespalacios said. “They’re there for the team, and the beer’s just an addition to the experience.”

Students who show a valid ID are given bracelets with a three drink limit to ensure that the level of drinking does not get out of control

“They’re serving beer and wine, it’s not like they’re giving tequila shots,” said Rebecca Sommer, an intern for SMU Atheltics.

At the game on Jan. 21, Sommer estimated about two-thirds of the crowd had a drink in hand. The most popular question she was asked was: “Where can I buy the beer?”

Not only will the alcohol vendors be a way to draw more fans to the games, but it should also prove to be an added source of revenue for the school and for the team.

Trespalacios sees the sale alcoholic beverages in Moody Coliseum as a sort of trial run to determine how the SMU community handles it and how it can benefit the team, the students and the university.

“I think we’re ready to take away the negative taboo surrounding alcohol at events,” Trespalacios said. “You can be a citizen, you can be responsible and you are a good Mustang even if you have a beer.”

For many college students, alcohol is constantly present and easily accessible to those who will seek it. Totah believes that having alcohol in at an SMU athletic event could spark a more positive outlook.

“I think that drinking and having alcohol in a place that’s relatively safe like at a sporting event or on campus promotes a better outlook on alcohol in general,” Totah said.

The next step following this “test-run,” as Trespalacios called, could extend to other athletic and campus events in the future.

Meanwhile, football games are alcohol-free with the exception of certain private suites. Boulevarding is chalk-full of alcoholic beverages, but upon entering the stadium, drinking is prohibited.

“Everyone goes to the Boulevard, but very few people make it to the game,” Totah explained. “I think it’s because people associate the Boulevard with having alcohol, so it would be great to see a packed stadium for all the games if everyone knew they could continue to drink there.”

Sommer agreed, and believes that even non-athletic events could profit from having beer or wine available.

“I feel like SMU is a very socially-focused school, so people are looking to have a good time at social events, and if they can’t drink, a lot of people won’t have incentive to go, or at least not to stay,” Sommer said.

Whether you drink or not, Trespalacios is adamant that students should still go to the games.

“I’ve never had so much fun at a sporting event in my life,” Trespalacios said. “Being part of something bigger — it’s amazing.”

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