Illini to sell beer at football, basketball games this fall

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The decision to sell beer in general seating areas during University of Illinois football and basketball home games could net the school over $100,000 in the first year, school athletics officials said.

UI officials announced Tuesday that beer can be purchased at several stands around Memorial Stadium starting this fall. Alcoholic beverages will continue to be sold in premium seating areas.

Marty Kaufmann, IU's senior associate athletic director, notes overhead costs will likely lower initial profits, the News-Gazette reported.

"There will probably be an increase in the low six figures," Kaufmann said. "But we've found when researching this that Year 1, you have some operational costs. Everybody thinks there's going to be a windfall, but that's not necessarily the case right away."

Kaufmann noted the revenue growth should come from attracting more fans into the stadiums.

"We want more people who have tickets to come into the stadium and stay longer," he said. "Hopefully, we'll have a better environment, which helps us win more games."

Selling beer in the stadium could also deter binge drinking during tailgating and discourage fans from smuggling beer inside, Kaufmann said. Nonetheless, a share of revenue from beer sales will pay for additional security at games.

"It's something we're doing right now as an overabundance of caution," said Pat Wade, spokesman for the University of Illinois Police. "We want to be sure we're ready for anything."

Beer sales have expanded in college sports, with over 50 of the 129 schools that compete at the highest level of the NCAA's Division I - the Football Bowl Subdivision - now selling it. Illinois joins five other Big Ten schools that intend to sell beer in stadiums this fall.

Beer could be on sale as early as the last three home games of this year's Illini baseball season.