On Oct. 21, Pittsburg State University announced that a pilot of alcohol sales will take place at the first home football game on Oct. 31 against the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
In the state of Kansas, PSU along with Emporia State and Fort Hayes State, was one of three universities to create a task force to explore the feasibility of alcohol sales on campus this fall.
“We hope that alcohol sales have a positive impact and enhances the fan experience, which makes them not only come to the game but come into the game,” said Steve Erwin, vice president for student life who chaired the task force. “
The task force studied data from regional institutions currently selling alcohol at intercollegiate athletic competitions and consulted with a private security agency experienced with alcohol sales at such events and with a local wholesale liquor distribution firm.
“For a number of years now, the University considered the option of selling alcohol at athletics events, particularly football games, and it haven’t really kicked in until some other schools in the MIAA started taking about it,” Erwin said. “Last spring, Pitt State put together a task force with Jim Johnson, Coach Jewett and me. The recommendation of that group was to move forward with implementing the alcohol sales, so we sent the pilot project to be approved by the president.”
Sodexo Campus Services will be the vendor of alcohol at Carnie Smith Stadium with two points of sale, one on the east side and one on the west. Both alcohol stands will be located on the main level and separated from other concessions stands carrying only wine, beer and a seltzer beverage.
“I think it is a smart decision because young or old, everybody enjoys a good beer at a football game,” said Cole Cusick, junior in construction management.
Safety guidelines that correspond with best practices recommended by professional sports and intercollegiate athletics associations will be enforced. There will be a trained Sodexo staff member present at the stand to oversee beverage sales. Customers are limited to one beverage each time they make a purchase and must wear a designated wristband. Alcohol sales will end at the conclusion of the third quarter and anyone who leaves the game won’t be able to reenter without an unscanned ticket.
“Our servers are trained to recognize signs of intoxication so they can deny a sale if they feel like someone has overconsumed,” Erwin said. “In a normal year when tailgating is going on, it’s a little harder to judge because we don’t really know the state they entered the stadium. Now we have an opportunity to observe that behavior reflected on our alcohol sales.”
Alcohols sales during NCAA events is a practice that has become more common since 2019 when members of the NCAA’s Southeastern Conference (SEC) voted to allow the sale of alcohol in public areas at their events, ending a longstanding ban. The policy allowed schools to sell alcohol limiting the allowed purchase to beer and wine.
“I think it’s a great idea to try it this year because there will be less people at the game,” said Austin Hicks, senior in business management. “Also, it will be a great revenue source with the limited amount of people allowed in the stadium.”
The task force was chaired by Steve Erwin, vice president for student life and co-chaired by Jim Johnson, the director of intercollegiate athletics. The task force also counted on additional members like University Police director Stu Hite, Sodexo campus services manager Kristina Taylor, Physical Plant and Grounds director Tim Senecaut, chief marketing officer Abigail Fern, and community member Brandee Johnson.
“We had a good representation from not only people who are involved in process but also alumni, people in the community and those with experience on the matter,” Erwin said.
If the pilot is ruled a success by the task force, alcohol sales are to be expected in the next home game and next season.