In April 2019, Indiana University announced a “pilot program” to sell beer and wine at Hoosier football games. After testing out the program this season, the results are in and overwhelmingly positive. In fact, the program was a success on all levels.
The program had three primary objectives: (1) lower alcohol-related incidents on gameday, (2) improve the game experience for attendees, and (3) raise revenue to be used for campus safety programs.
First, since the implementation of the program, there were fewer alcohol-related incidents during gamedays. The administration hoped that allowing beer and wine sales during football games would prevent excessive binge drinking (and binge drinking incidents) prior to entering the stadium. The numbers seem to support this theory. The Indiana University Police Department and IU Event Services reported a total of 40 alcohol-related incidents on gamedays this year or an average of 6.67 incidents per game. This is a significant drop from each of the last three seasons, which averaged 59 incidents per season or 8.85 incidents per game. In other words, this season saw a 25% decrease in average incidents per game compared to previous years.
These results fall in line with other universities who had similar decreases in alcohol-related incidents. For example, Ohio State saw a 65% drop in incidents and West Virginia saw a 35% drop in their first years selling beer and wine.
Furthermore, IU’s program was more popular with fans than expected. The total gross revenue from beer and wine sales across the six Hoosier home games was just over $470,000. After revenue-sharing and expenses, IU pulled in a little over $200,000 of profit. This figure exceeded initial projections from the consulting firm Wasserman, who estimated it would net $171,000.
Because of the program’s financial success, IU was able to meet another of its program objectives: raising revenue for campus safety programs. According to the original guidelines of the pilot program, IU Athletics agreed to share 10% of this revenue with the IU Dean of Students Office to be used for substance abuse prevention programs on campus. Therefore, based on the numbers, the program will contribute $20,000 for such programs.
After these positive results, look for Indiana to continue selling beer and wine at football games, and potentially other sporting events, in the future…just not Assembly Hall.
Athletics Director Fred Glass noted that the program could be expanded to soccer, baseball, softball, and other primarily outdoor sporting events. However, Glass is not very keen on expanding the program to basketball for two main reasons. First, IU does not need any additional draws to bring in fans as attendance is always at or near capacity. Secondly, the intimate atmosphere and close proximity of the fans to the court gives the administration pause.
Thus, while the success of the program could result in more beer and wine sales at IU athletic events, fans are still a long way away from enjoying their favorite brew next to the hardwood.