Raise a Plastic Glass
With college football season getting underway August 27, fans at SMU and UNT will have more to cheer for than just their favorite teams. Both universities will sell beer to the general public at football games for the first time.
SMU announced its plans back in June, and UNT followed suit in July. Both have experimented with on-campus alcohol sales in the past: SMU sold beer and wine at basketball games earlier in 2014, and UNT has previously sold beer in restricted areas of both Apogee Stadium and Fouts Field.
"We are in constant competition for the consumer's entertainment dollar, so we have to provide the amenities sport enthusiasts expect," says UNT's Rick Villarreal.
As luck would have it, the first test of either university's new policy will be against each other when UNT hosts SMU on Saturday, September 6.
Alcohol sales have traditionally been verboten at college sporting events, but there are a growing number of universities who have warmed to the idea — both as a new source of revenue and as a way to curb excessive drinking at tailgate parties.
There are currently 19 other Division I schools that sell alcohol at on-campus football stadiums, including the University of Houston and UTEP. Eleven others, including UT San Antonio, use off-campus stadiums that allow alcohol sales. Texas, Texas Tech and UT Arlington also sell alcohol at certain other athletic events.
In a statement, UNT president Neal Smatresk expressed no reservations about the upcoming change. "We carefully studied all issues related to making beer available in Apogee Stadium, and from every angle, it makes sense," Smatresk says.
UNT athletics director Rick Villarreal put an even finer point on it, saying that beer sales were necessary for them to compete in the crowded Dallas-Fort Worth area sports market.
"In a market where we are in constant competition for the consumer's entertainment dollar, we have to provide the amenities sport enthusiasts expect," Villareal says. "With the addition of beer sales in the stadium, we will now offer what venues like AT&T Stadium and the American Airlines Center have provided from day one."
In a fitting addition to first-ever beer sales, this season UNT will also roll out a new free shuttle from downtown Denton to Apogee Stadium — a feature AT&T Stadium has yet to adopt.