Alcohol sales could expand to Mariucci Arena, Williams Arena

Upon further review, alcohol sales may be coming to more sporting events at the University of Minnesota.

President Eric Kaler is asking the Board of Regents to open up alcohol sales to general admission seats at Mariucci Arena for hockey and Williams Arena for basketball.

“One is the fan experience that we are competing with - a lot of opportunities for people to compete with sporting events and most of those if you want to have a beer or a glass of wine that you can,” said Kaler. “And we feel that that’s appropriate in the Gopher spaces as well.”

The decision is also about making money. University officials say alcohol sales at Williams and Mariucci could bring in $250,000 a year.

Selling alcohol is not a new venture for the U of M. They started selling beer at TCF bank Stadium as part of pilot study in 2012 and have been selling it ever since. Kaler says the stadium’s track record is what encouraged them to expand.

“In fact, the alcohol-related experiences dropped once we started serving inside the stadium, and that’s pretty easy to understand - people don’t get intoxicated beforehand,” said Kaler.

It’s also about boosting ticket sales. The university just announced it dropped season ticket prices for both men’s hockey and basketball in hopes of boosting attendance next year. Kaler hopes an improved fan experience will help.

“We hope those two are linked so that fan experience improves, which is what this is really designed to address and then the venues and the activities and the games will be more attractive to attract more Gopher fans,” he said.  

More colleges and universities are expanding alcohol sales as a way to boost revenues. This was the first year the NCAA allowed alcohol at the Final Four, which was held in Minneapolis.