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Published: Tuesday, 5/21/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

University of Toledo may sell alcohol at sporting venues

University officials will decide within 2 weeks

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
O'Brien O'Brien
BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

The Glass Bowl could soon be filled with suds.

In a revelation met Tuesday with overwhelming approval, University of Toledo officials said they soon will decide whether to sell alcohol in the main seating areas at home football games.

A decision to join a growing number of schools that dangle booze to boost attendance and revenue sales could come within the next two weeks, according to Toledo athletic director Mike O’Brien. If approved beer and wine also will be sold at Savage Arena for basketball games.

"The institution has looked at this as a possible additional revenue stream," O'Brien said.

Changes would go into effect starting in the fall for home football games.

O’Brien said as recently as May, 2012, that the university had no plans to join fellow Mid-American Conference schools Bowling Green, Akron, and Kent State by offering adult beverage options at concession stands.

"It was not on the table at that time," O’Brien said.

Money, as O’Brien indicated, is the driving force.

Bowling Green nets between $20,000 and $25,000 annually off alcohol sales at home football games, according to former BGSU athletic director Greg Christopher.

Kent State relies on a different revenue generating model, offering beer for the dirt floor price of $2 to entice folks to a sometimes dormant Dix Stadium.

The University of Akron, which also thirsts for bigger turnouts, started tapping its kegs a year ago.

Attendance is not an issue at Toledo. The football team set a program record in 2012 for season ticket sales, and women’s basketball has led the MAC in home attendance the last 23 years.

Men’s basketball last year outdrew all but one MAC team. A few cold ones however could numb the university’s pain of slashing its budget by a projected $14 million to $17 million.

Beer is sold to the average fan at 22 of 120 major college football stadiums — more than twice as many as a decade ago.

Eleven of the alcohol-friendly facilities are, unlike the Glass Bowl, located off a university’s campus. Think NFL stadiums rented by college teams.

Suds presently are a tough find for the common Rocket fan, as only visitors of the press tower at the Glass Bowl and the suite area at Savage Arena are permitted to imbibe.

Toledo officials must determine how to legislate sales to ensure a safe and friendly environment. Increased security seems to be a must, as does a cut-off point in the game for alcohol sales.

NFL stadiums stop selling beer at the end of the third quarter. Last call at the Mud Hens’ Fifth Third Field comes in the seventh inning.

Also worth exploring are hidden fees, which has bit at least one unsuspecting school.

Minnesota, which in 2012 became the first Big Ten school to cater to the 21-and-over crowd, sold nearly $1 million in alcohol at TCF Bank Stadium and lost money.

By the time vendors took a cut and the school paid for security and start-up fees a deficit existed of $15,516.

O’Brien and other university decision makers will soon consider those issues and other potential hang ups.

If they express their desire to proceed fans should expect a party Sept. 14 for the football home opener against Eastern Washington.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160, or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.



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