MINNEAPOLIS — Thirsty sports fans, raise a glass: Your options for getting a beer or glass of vino just grew exponentially on the University of Minnesota (U of M) campus.
The U of M Board of Regents voted unanimously to approve the sale of beer and wine at multiple on-campus sports venues for Gopher home games. Starting with the upcoming 2019-20 athletic seasons fans will be able to purchase beer and wine from all seating areas at both 3M Arena at Mariucci for hockey games and Williams Arena for basketball games. Alcohol sales will stop just before the start of the third period in hockey, and just before the start of the second half in hoops.
Fans with access to the Maturi Pavilion clubroom for volleyball and wrestling will also be able to buy beer and wine.
"We are appreciative of the Board in approving this measure," said Athletics Director Mark Coyle. "Our No. 1 goal will always remain to provide a safe and fan-friendly environment, but we also need to continue to be competitive in the amenities we offer our fans."
The Athletic Department estimates that selling beer and wine at these venues will bring in an additional $250,000 per year after an initial investment of $70,000.
Approving alcohol sales is just the latest step by the U of M Athletic Department to boost slumping or stagnating ticket sales. The department introduced a lower season-ticket price for men's hockey and men's hoops earlier this year, air conditioning was installed in Maturi Pavilion, and the lighting was upgraded in both Williams Arena and Maturi Pavilion.
"In this market our competition isn't Wisconsin, it's not Iowa, it's the professional teams, it's going to theaters, it's going to movies where when people do those entertainment options, if they wan to buy a beer or buy wine, they can do that," Coyle says.
Coyle and his staff are getting input on potential changes and improvements directly from fans, after creating Minnesota's first-ever Fan Advisory Board in 2017. The group meets each quarter to discuss everything from parking and concessions to social media engagement and media coverage.