University of Missouri

Mizzou will sell beer, wine at Tigers football games starting this fall

Missouri AD Jim Sterk on Tigers’ response to NCAA ruling

Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk talks about the department’s response to the NCAA ruling.
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Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk talks about the department’s response to the NCAA ruling.

The bar is officially open for Missouri fans.

Missouri’s athletic department has approved the sale of beer and wine at Tigers football games starting this fall. The Southeastern Conference lifted its ban on alcohol sales this spring, becoming the last Power 5 conference to do so. Shortly after the SEC lifted its ban, Missouri began exploring the idea of adding alcohol sales.

“Since the SEC staff established its working group to study this issue in 2018, our staff has been working with campus leadership, including MU Chief of Police Doug Schwandt, and our Wellness Center team, to develop a detailed and thoughtful alcoholic beverage sales plan for Mizzou in the event that the SEC position on this issue were to change,” Mizzou athletic director Jim Sterk said. “Based on the experiences of other institutions, we expect Mizzou football fans will appreciate this new option. We also expect alcoholic beverage sales at Memorial Stadium will help reduce the incidents associated with binge drinking that can occur on game day. We consider that a win-win for our fans.”

The SEC policy limits the sales to strictly beer and wine in designated areas. No vendors can sell beer in the seats; sales will be in the concourses. Sales will be cut off at the end of the third quarter and Mizzou will also provide an alcohol-free seating area at Memorial Stadium.

Other Power 5 schools, such as Kansas, are adding beer sales at football games this season, while Kansas State has alcohol sales at football games limited to suites and a beer garden but not in the general seating area.

The shift in policy brings in revenue for an athletic department greatly in need of cash. Missouri’s athletic department ran roughly a $2 million deficit for the 2017-18 fiscal year partially because of declining football attendance. Having alcohol available in the stadium could deter tailgating fans from skipping the game in favor of drinking outside.

Mizzou’s release in announcing beer and wine sales at football games says the athletic department will consider adding sales at other sporting events.

Missouri will open its new south endzone complex at Memorial Stadium this fall, an $100 million project that adds more luxury seating, but reduces the stadium’s capacity to around 62,621.

While Missouri was looking into adding alcohol sales, athletic director Jim Sterk said that the university police department was in favor of the move because it would put fans that elect to drink in a more controlled environment. Studies done on colleges selling alcohol also saw a correlation between alcohol sales and low arrests.

“As part of this move, fans can also expect an increase in game-day messaging and education with regard to responsible consumption and sober driving, as part of our partnership with the campus Wellness Center,” Sterk said.

Missouri will sell alcohol through its vendor, Levy, but didn’t specify the types that will be available to fans. As a state, Missouri is home to both Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis and Boulvevard Brewing in Kansas City, giving the athletic department two local options. Logboat Brewery, a craft brewery in Columbia has also been lobbied for by fans for the stadiums to carry.

The Tigers home football season opener is Sept. 7 against West Virginia. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. on ESPN.

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Alex Schiffer has been covering the Missouri Tigers for The Star since October 2017. He came in second place for magazine-length feature writing by the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association in 2018 and graduated from Mizzou in 2017.