New stadium, new alcohol policy

Jody Michael

Trustees limit beer sales at home games for Akron Zips fans

University of Akron trustees voted last month to sell alcohol at only the most premium seats at the school’s new on-campus football stadium.

Alcohol sales at InfoCision Stadium will only be in the fifth-level club seats and the sixth-level suites. The Zips’ former home, the Rubber Bowl, had no alcohol sales except in the tailgating area outside of the stadium.

This new policy is only definite for the stadium’s first season, allowing the university to reconsider it in future years.

Other events at the stadium besides Zips’ football games may allow for different alcohol policies. Those events could be permitted to sell alcohol from the main concourses, but each occasion will have to be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Kent State allows beer sales at Dix Stadium in the first half during football games, and Associate Athletic Director Pete Mahoney said fans shouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon.

“We’ve been able to keep (student drinking) under control,” Mahoney said. “And when you are able to do that, why not?”

Beer is also sold before home games at Tailgate Alley, the site outside of Dix Stadium that holds various pre-game festivities. Tailgate Alley was introduced in 2006.

“We had alumni tell us that they wanted to be able to have a small hibachi before games,” said Robert Heller, senior associate athletic director at Kent State. “So we purchased a license that allows us to sell alcohol in a contained area.”

Heller stressed that alcohol sales at Tailgate Alley and Dix Stadium are not for the purpose of profit, nor to promote excessive drinking.

Everyone wishing to purchase beer is required to show valid identification and can only purchase two drinks at a time. Staff members are thoroughly educated on Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS), and campus police are on the scene to assist with checking IDs and making sure everyone is under control. Concessions stop selling tickets for beer during the last five minutes of the second quarter and beer cannot be purchased after halftime.

Heller said the revenues from Tailgate Alley and game day alcohol sales are not very large – just enough to cover the expenses of holding such an event, which include tables, security, entertainment, etc.

“We just wanted to provide a service to our fans,” Heller said. “The pros far outweighed the cons when we decided to start this. We’ve never had (a dangerous) incident, and the feedback we’ve received has been extremely good.

Students, alumni and families all have activities to occupy them,” he said. “For example, parents love that they can bring their kids and let them play on the inflatables without worrying about (their safety).”

Heller said he hasn’t noticed any changes in attendance at football games since the creation of Tailgate Alley and doubts such a thing has that type of effect.

“But we do think that this is going to make our fans more interested to return,” he said. “They have such a great time that they want to come back for the homecoming game, or for the Akron game.”

Contact news correspondent Jody Michael at [email protected].