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Published: Saturday, 7/27/2013

Toledo OK’d to roll out the barrels this season


Let’s make a toast: To drinking at University of Toledo home games.

The Ohio division of liquor control has issued the school a permit to sell alcohol on campus, freeing Rocket supporters to imbibe at home football and basketball games beginning this fall.

The news had been expected since May when Toledo athletic director Mike O’Brien told The Blade of the school’s desire to join a growing trend of athletic departments that offer adult beverages to their fans. O’Brien, who at the time offered few details on the matter, revealed more on Thursday.

A 16-ounce beer will cost $6, he said, and will be supplied by local distributors Heidelberg and Treu House of Munch. Based on the products listed on their Web sites, Budweiser, Coors, and Michelob figure to be on the concession stand menu. So does wine. Beverages will be served in plastic bottles for safety reasons.

"Obviously our stance on responsible behavior from our fans won’t change," O’Brien said. "That’s always in place. A number of schools have done this and some of our fans have asked about it. We thought this was the year to make this move."

Until now alcohol was available only to visitors of the press tower of the Glass Bowl and the suite area at Savage Arena.

Toledo is believed to be the 23rd school in major college football and the fourth Mid-American Conference school to sell alcohol at home games.

Bowling Green, which made the move in football three years ago, brings in as much as $25,000 a year from alcohol sales. Tapping into a new revenue stream was among several factors in Toledo’s decision, O’Brien said.

"The financial piece is clearly a part of it, but it could also create for some a more entertaining experience during our events," he said.

O’Brien stressed that safeguards will be in place to limit unruly and illegal behavior.

Campus police officers will man selling areas, and every patron no matter the age he or she appears will be asked to produce identification.

A limit of two beverages will be allowed to a person per visit to the concession stand. Sales will stop at the end of the third quarter in football and 10 minutes into the second half of basketball. Additionally, servers and managers will be required to attend training.

"All of the alcohol service management items will be in place to ensure responsible consumption," O’Brien said.

Booze will first start flowing Sept. 14 at 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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