Jonas Shaffer: According to an article this week in The Diamondback, a Student Government Association official has put forth a bill proposing the sale of alcohol at athletic events.
The impetus for the bill is not money, but safety. "I would like to see the sale of alcohol at all athletic events, making these beverages available to all attendees who are legally allowed to drink," reads the proposal of Josh Ratner, the SGA student affairs vice president and undergraduate senator in the University Senate, according to the Diamondback. "This will reduce incidences of unsafe drinking, attract more fans to athletic events and generate additional revenue for the University."
Just how much? During the 2011 season, West Virginia made more than half a million dollars in beer sales alone, according to a February 2012 Associated Press report. Food sales for that season were up 60 percent, while concession sales overall were up 84 percent from the previous season. Underage-drinking arrests and open-container violations, meanwhile, fell off.
Alcohol, technically, already is for sale at Byrd Stadium, but only for the 64 Tyser Tower suites ringing the field. Opening up the sale of beer to a stadium with a 10,000-seat student section would present the university with a wonderful financial opportunity (What 21-year-old kid doesn't enjoy a cold one on a steamy September day?) and daunting liability concern (What 18-year-old kid wouldn't want enjoy a cold one on a steamy September day?).
Wallace Loh crusaded against underage drinking at Iowa, where he served as provost before taking a position as university president at Maryland. Would he be willing to open up alcohol sales if he thought it might actually help the problem at the school?