Possibility of alcohol sales at Reilly Center still on back burner

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The sale of beer in college stadiums and arenas has been a topic of conversation across the NCAA landscape for decades now. An article in The New York Times yesterday noted that just nine teams in the so-called “Big Five” conferences sell beer to the general public: West Virginia, Texas, Maryland, Minnesota, Colorado, Wake Forest, Miami, Syracuse and Louisville. West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons said last month that approximately $500,000 a year comes back to the university off of beer sales alone.

St. Bonaventure athletic director Tim Kenney said today that while beer is a possible revenue generator, the school won’t be selling it at basketball games this season.

“We have other revenue avenues to look at first,” Kenney said. “As the season is closely approaching, to make such a decision we wouldn’t have time to vet it properly and put into place a plan to offer it in a responsible manner.”

Kenney acknowledged that providing fans the opportunity to enjoy an adult beverage while cheering on the Bonnies could be a positive way to bring some money in for the university, but listed a few challenges to making it happen.

One of the biggest challenges Kenney listed was the control of the sale to those 21 or over. Underage drinking would be of major concern, and proper identification measures would have to be in place.

Monitoring and serving alcohol in an appropriate manner was also listed as a challenge. Along with carding for underage drinking, stadiums and arenas that sell beer at games have to set limits on how many beers are allowed per customer and when beer sales have to be cut off.

The other possible roadblock in the whole situation is making sure that selling alcohol at games would align with the values of the school. St. Bonaventure’s Franciscan friars would certainly have their input on any decision in addition to Sister Margaret Carney, the university’s president. At schools without a religious affiliation, like West Virginia or Syracuse, getting this idea signed off is a bit less tricky.

Each of the challenges of selling alcohol in the Reilly Center need further discussion and planning. With basketball season a month away and other money-making ideas higher on the priority list, beer sales don’t seriously factor into the athletic department’s plans this year. Kenney did not dismiss the possibility entirely, however, which leaves the door open for consideration in the future.

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