What universities need: beer and balls

Kristine Gill

College kids like to drink. This is something most colleges understand. They put rules in place to prevent kids from doing it in dorms, they warn about the risks of underage drinking and drinking too much, and they joke about it in class.

But they don’t capitalize on it. University towns do, sure, but the universities themselves have one way to take advantage of students’ thirst: Sell them alcohol – at sporting events.

You’d be surprised by how many universities don’t do that: The University of Akron, The Ohio State University, The University of Minnesota and Michigan State University. Most Big Ten schools only allow alcohol in their luxury boxes.

Kent State does sell it.

But take Ohio State for example. Their stadium seats more than 100,000 fans a game. Imagine if only a third of those people each bought just one beer at $3 a pop. That’s $100,000 – salary for a professor or two, renovations on an old building or an equipment upgrade.

Now picture your friend Joe, who drinks a dozen beers on a sober day, and multiply your friend Joe by a few thousand. Of course, you’ll have to average in a few thousand people like your mother who feels the world spin after her second sip of box wine. They’ll probably pass on the beer. But that’s still a lot of booze and a lot of dinero.

And the way universities are cutting budgets, offering faculty buyouts, toying with staff work weeks and upping tuition and board, you’d think they’d be looking for ways to avoid doing those things. You’d think they’d be looking for ways to make money, not just work with what they have.

Because the fact remains; college kids like to drink. And I’d wager that beer money will figure into our budgets longer than what we set aside for useless, over-priced textbooks. We’re going to spring for the expensive stadium booze even though we know Natty costs $3 at the gas station a mile away.

Ohio universities especially should avoid taking advantage of the new 3.5 percent tuition increase the governor is now allowing to make up for the state budget. That’s like going back on a promise. Get us liquored up before you pick our pockets. Do that before you offer buyouts to our favorite professors.

There are reasons universities don’t sell alcohol at stadiums. They don’t want students to get rip-roaring drunk and ruin the atmosphere of a game for the sober fans. They don’t want kids starting fights in packed seating areas and leaving behind countless plastic cups.

Go lax on the rules and see how it goes. That’s my suggestion. If kids start getting too rowdy or annoyed, fans stop coming – then you can stop selling. But if you start making some money, you can stop with some layoffs and cutbacks.

I’m free to talk about this. Come on, I’ll buy you a drink.

Kristine Gill is a senior journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].