Nebraska paves way for ruling on sports alcohol sales

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FILE – Fans line up outside a concession stand selling beer during an NCAA college football game between North Carolina State and East Carolina at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina, Saturday, August 31, 2019. Nebraska would sell alcohol to the Big Ten wrestling championships in March if university regents approve a policy review at its meeting next week, opening up the possibility that alcohol is available at Cornhuskers football games. Athletic department officials have long considered selling alcohol on their venues, and their interest has increased recently as they look for ways to improve the fan experience. (Bryan Cereijo/The News & Observer via AP, File)

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On Friday, University of Nebraska regents cleared the way for campus leaders to decide whether or not to sell alcohol at their sports venues, bringing Nebraska football fans closer to buying alcohol from vendors at Memorial Stadium.

The Regents also approved an amendment to the lease with Pinnacle Bank Arena allowing the sale of alcohol during the Big Ten Wrestling Championships on March 5-6.

Athletic department officials have long considered selling alcohol at their venues. At least half of the schools in the major conferences and eight of the 14 schools in the Big Ten sell alcohol.

The regents’ vote means that the president and chancellors of the university can authorize the sale and consumption of alcohol at sporting events on their respective campuses. The change would also allow alcohol advertising and sponsorships on university property with the chancellor’s approval.

Nebraska-Omaha has been selling alcohol at its campus sports venues since 2015, so Friday’s vote established a consistent policy across campuses and paves the way for Chancellor Ronnie Green and University President Ted Carter to begin liquor sales inside Memorial Stadium.

“Whether we could see alcohol at Memorial Stadium, we don’t have an answer for you at this time,” Carter said. “What I can tell you is that it won’t be this fall.”

Tom Osborne, the Cornhuskers’ College Football Hall of Fame coach from 1973 to 1997, expressed strong opposition to alcohol sales when he was athletic director from 2007 to 2012.

Liquor sales have been a reliable source of revenue for athletic departments across the country. Schools are looking for ways to keep fans in stadiums and arenas and, over the past year, recover some of the revenue from tickets, concessions and merchandise lost during the pandemic.

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