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University of Minnesota Pitches Expanded Alcohol Sales at Arenas

University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota could expand alcohol sales at Williams Arena and 3M Arena at Mariucci, as university officials are pitching the idea to the Board of Regents.

Alcohol sales at Williams Arena and 3M Arena at Mariucci–home to men’s and women’s basketball and the men’s hockey program, respectively–are currently limited to premium areas. However, university officials are pitching the idea of expanding alcohol sales beyond those parts of the facilities and into general seating areas.

Regent approval will be required for the concept to move forward, but expanded alcohol sales are seen as potential boosts to revenue and ticket sales. In a recent memo to regents, university president Eric Kaler noted the success of a similar alcohol sales policy at football’s TCF Bank Stadium and the need for both arenas to generate revenue in the competitive Twins Cities market. More from the Star Tribune:

U President Eric Kaler sent a memo to the Board of Regents last week, asking the board to permit wine and beer sales to those sitting in general admission at Williams and Mariucci arenas. Regent approval for the request, which comes from the U’s Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, is necessary before the taps can open.

In his memo, Kaler wrote that he “strongly” supports expanded sales, “given the intensely competitive sports entertainment market we have in the Twin Cities and the positive results we have experienced with general seating alcohol sales at TCF Bank Stadium.”

The request for more drink sales is an attempt to address slumping ticket sales and revenue. Poor attendance drove the U to announce a week ago that some season ticket prices would be dropped for men’s hockey and basketball. Annual average revenue from alcohol sales at TCF Bank Stadium has been $1.3 million, with most of it coming from general admission sections rather than premium seats.

The Twin Cities are certainly strong with sports venues at this point, with Minneapolis boasting the Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium, an arena in Target Center that has undergone extensive renovations in recent years, and a well-maintained MLB ballpark in Target Field. St. Paul, meanwhile, features Xcel Energy Center–where the NHL’s Minnesota Wild recently extended their lease–CHS Field for baseball’s St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association), and the brand-new Allianz Field for MLS’s Minnesota United FC.

As part of the current proposal, several policies would be put into place to correspond with expanded alcohol sales at both of the university’s arenas. Those would include ending alcohol sales for basketball games at halftime, and cutting them off after the second period for hockey.

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