Weigel: In heaven there is no beer

It’s time for Kinnick to start selling beer.


David Harmantas

A tailgater pours out a beer for beer pong in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018.

Zach Weigel, Opinion Columnist

Don’t get me wrong, the game-day experience at Kinnick Stadium is top-notch. From the swarm taking the field with Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blaring to raucous I-O-W-A chants and the first-quarter wave to the Stead Family Children’s Hospital, the Kinnick experience is excellent. In fact, according to the Lansing State Journal, the Kinnick experience is the best in the Big Ten. But I believe the Kinnick experience could be even better if the stadium started selling beer to the general public.

Beer and sporting events go together like fall weather and flannel shirts. The two are inextricably intertwined and just as droves of us don flannel this time of the year, droves of schools across the nation are starting to embrace the sale of beer. As it stands now, 52 of the 129 Division-1 football programs in the country sell alcohol stadium-wide. That’s almost half of the schools.

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Why shouldn’t Iowa join the party?

This summer at Big Ten media days, Hawkeye Athletics Director Gary Barta said the university is not actively looking to start selling alcohol right now. However, at the same time, Barta suggested that selling alcohol is a very real possibility, saying, “If the country continues to see schools adding the sale of alcohol, we won’t be the first. We probably won’t be the last to do it.”

But why wait? Why not join the bandwagon now instead of maintaining the wait-and-see approach? Five Big Ten schools sell beer in the stands. Why isn’t Iowa?

Roughly 70,000 fans gather in Kinnick seven times a year, yet only those fans with premium seating in the press box or club level can drink during the game. Just imagine if all of us (of legal age) could drink a victory beer when the Hawks win as the band plays “In Heaven, There Is No Beer.” What could be more satisfying?

It’s no secret that Iowans and Iowa football fans love to drink. Tailgates — where drinking beer is prevalent — are commonplace in Iowa City before every game, rain or shine. And, just three years ago, when the Hawks made the Big Ten championship in Indianapolis, fans drank a bar out of beer. Therefore, you know there is a huge market for alcohol sales at Kinnick.

By selling beer, Kinnick could stand to make millions annually. Last year Purdue reported making more than $400,000 from alcohol sales, and Ohio State reported $1.35 million in alcohol revenue. Moreover, evidence suggests that selling alcohol also increases food-concession sales and decreases arrests during the game for alcohol-related offenses.

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Ergo, not only would selling beer at Kinnick make money, it might also encourage safer drinking — something that it seems is needed seeing as numerous Iowa fraternities were just suspended for violating a university-wide greek-life ban on alcohol at greek events.

Theoretically, if students and fans can drink at the game, they’ll be less likely to engage in high-risk binge drinking during tailgates before the game. Students and fans could also be more likely to actually go to the game instead of staying at tailgates or going to a bar in which they can drink during games.

Plenty of teams sell alcohol in the stands, for good reason. It raises revenue and makes the fan experience more enjoyable. Plus, selling alcohol during the game would also help to cut down on high-risk binge-drinking behavior and motivate people to go to the games because they can drink.

Everyone knows that there are crushed beer cans and empty mini-bottles all across Kinnick at the end of every game. It’s time to open the flood gates and start selling beer at Kinnick. In heaven there is no beer, that’s why we should be able to drink it here — at Kinnick, during the games.