Alcohol has played an essential role in gamedays for many sports fans – adults and college students alike. Now, it’s available for purchase in the DakotaDome, but only at limited locations.
USD’s opening football game against Montana marked the first sporting eventin school history where alcohol was sold to spectators. Those in the Dome Club and Coyote Landing could purchase alcohol.
In previous years, alcohol was hosted at sporting events but not sold. At the time of publication, sales revenue information from the opening game is not available.
With this being the first season of sales for USD, the school is keeping the menu light. Currently, beers sell for six dollars while wine costs seven. The university is partnering with Aramark, which holds the liquor license and controls of all
“We were already, in essence, serving alcohol. You could host alcohol, you just couldn’t purchase alcohol,” Herbster said. “Part of the policy was that there were no alcohol sales on campuses, so we really started to ask ourselves: ‘Why?’”
Prohibition of alcohol sales is normal on most NCAA campuses. However, schools like USD have begun opening sales to the public.
Prior to the 2018 NCAA football season, 52 FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) programs offered alcohol to spectators, up from less than a dozen just a decade prior, according to Des Moines Register. This season, the SEC (Southeastern Conference) lifted a ban on alcohol sales at football games. Recently, Ole Miss announced alcohol will be served during the team’s final three home games, joining six other conference schools in opening the taps.
Unlike Ole Miss, USD will sell alcohol throughout the season. The process began in July of 2018, Corey Jenkins, Senior Associate AD for Facilities and Operations, said.
The school did not need to go through the NCAA during the process, but rather the South Dakota Board of
“If anything, the NCAA lets you do what you do on your campus,” Herbster said. “They’re not going to get too far into that side of things as far as alcohol sales go.”
The most important box the university needed to check was making sure proper procedures and policies were addressed.
“You have to establish a system of control,” Jenkins said. “You have to define the areas where you will be selling.”
Due to stipulations from the Board of Regents, alcohol cannot be sold by every vendor or concession stand in the Dome. For football
Once renovations are complete on the west side of the Dome, alcohol will be served in the new suites and lounges menu-style, where you will have to order ahead of time.
After defining controlled areas, the next step is controlling access into those areas and establish policies. Access to controlled areas is based on the type of ticket purchased and the amount donated to the Howling Pack, making sales unavailable to the general public.
Procedures in controlled areas are not unlike procedures followed at places like bars or clubs. I.D. checks and wristband usage is enforced to ensure customers are of legal age. Wristbands and/or I.D. checks are performed each time a customer buys a drink. A maximum of two drinks can be purchased at a time.
Alcohol isn’t sold for the entirety of a game. For football, sales begin 90 minutes prior to the start of the game and cease at the end of the third quarter, which is standard practice for college football and NFL games alike.
“The bottom line is showing that you’re responsible and that you can handle the sales,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said the goal for making the change are not revenue-driven, but to establish a control standpoint.
“In the past, we were giving beer away, and you’re in a much better control standpoint when you’re selling,” Jenkins said. “As a fan amenity piece as we move forward with opening up the west side of the Dome, it gives us an opportunity to provide that service in future seasons.”
As the Dome nears completion with renovations, Herbster said the university has no plans of expanding sales to other areas not previously mentioned.
The next opportunity for club members to order alcohol is Saturday at 2 p.m., as the Coyote football team welcomes Houston Baptist.