NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - For all the fans that sat through Rutgers University home football game during the recent 1-11 season, the university has struck on a plan that will allow those loyal followers to drown their frustrations a bit more while also helping the team.
The university athletic program today announced that it will expand beer and wine sales at the venues it manages and use the revenues to offset the $16 million in athletic scholarships.
To help cover the funds awarded to 600 student-athletes, the university will sell the beverages at more events, even permitting devotees to sip a beer while watching women's softball.
“This decision was the result of a year-long review of the experience and data from across the college landscape,” said university Athletic Director Pat Hobbs. “Universities have seen a dramatic drop in alcohol-related incidents on game day by providing a controlled environment for beer and wine sales. We will work closely with RUPD to achieve similar results at Rutgers,” Hobbs said in a statement.
This new tactic comes after much vetting that gained the support of the Rutgers University Senate and other key internal groups, the university said. It said Rutgers looked at examples of operations at other universities and how they carefully employ sales of alcoholic beverages.
“Data from peer institutions shows a correlation between a decrease in alcohol-related incidents when a venue provides a controlled environment for beer and wine sales,” said Rutgers Police Chief Kenneth Cop.
“The RUPD will continue to be vigorous in working with Rutgers Athletics to promote public safety at athletic events and expects attendees to respect all applicable laws to ensure a safe and enjoyable game day experience,” Cop said.
Currently, Rutgers serves alcohol at premium seating locations at HighPoint.com Stadium and in hospitality areas at the Rutgers Athletics Center.
Rutgers said it received positive reviews of a Brewfest staged inside Athlete’s Glen during the football season.
Now the university is looking for proposals to partner with a new food services provider that would secure the necessary licenses to serve alcohol at the designated venues for Rutgers and third-party events.
“This is part of a broader effort to improve the overall fan experience in the years ahead, from concessions to apparel sales,” said Hobbs. “We want our venues to be the destination for our fans here in New Jersey and across the New York metropolitan area.”
The expansion will include general seating areas for events at HighPoint.com Stadium, the RAC, Yurcak Field, and baseball and softball games.
Rutgers pointed to more Division I universities permitting alcohol sales with greater frequency inside athletics venues. A recent peer review, the university said, revealed that 51 of the 129 NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision programs allowed in-stadium alcohol sales to the general public. Also, the NCAA Executive Council recently approved alcohol sales at NCAA Championship events, the university said.
All state laws will be followed, the university said in its announcement, and strict policies will be followed, including the requirement of valid ID showing the buyer is at least age 21, and the restriction that no one person can buy more than two drinks at one time.
Beverage sales will be cut off at specific times during events, and all game and event staff will be required to take alcohol management training. The security staff will also be alcohol monitors, and there will be designated alcohol-free zones.
And to get people home safely after games, the university said Lyft, the "Official Ride Share Partner of Rutgers Athletics," will continue to have designated pick-up zones to expedite the experience for fans requiring transportation.