UT Austin
10:53 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

UT Austin to Sell Alcohol at Longhorn Athletic Games Starting Friday

Update: UT Austin says it will start selling beer and wine at Red & Charline McCombs Field Friday when Texas Softball hosts the Texas Invitational. 

“This trial will be in effect this spring for all remaining men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball games, and the fan fest area at the Texas Relays,” said UT Men’s Athletics Director Steve Patterson in a statement released Thursday. “We could look into expanding it for other sports events next fall provided the outcome of the trial is positive.”

At the end of the 2014 spring sports season, UT officials, along with UT Police, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and UT Athletics concessionaire Sodexho Sports and Leisure, say they will evaluate the effectiveness and safety of the trial to see if alcohol will be served at other sporting events. 

The beer and wine trial will not include the spring football game on April 19 at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Original Story (2/26/14): Starting soon, the University of Texas at Austin will sell beer and wine at basketball, baseball and softball games, according to a UT source. 

The university is making the switch because fans have requested it, according to sources, but officials also hope to increase revenue and decrease the amount of binge drinking that occurs before events.  

While the university hasn’t expanded alcohol sales to football games yet, UT adjunct professor Marlene Dixon thinks the university is using basketball and baseball as a test market for the football season.

“This is a lot more about the atmosphere at games than making money," Dixon says.

According to a 2013 study by Dixon and then-graduate student Kelly Huang, if UT sold alcohol at football games, it would generate about $576,001 in net revenue, not a large amount for an athletics program that generated more than $160 million in 2011-2012.

“There are a lot less risky ways to make $600,000 dollars and that is why UT is not jumping at this for football," Dixon says.

Plus, she says there’s no evidence that providing alcohol during an event will reduce binge drinking.

“A college student is most likely not going to binge drink at $8 a pop," Dixon argues.  "I think it’s more about having amenities for the fans, increasing the atmosphere."

The study uses the 2006-2008 expansion project at the Texas Memorial Stadium to show a connection between ticket sales and alcohol.

According to the study, when premium seating became available for the 2008 football season only half of the seats sold. The following year, a temporary hospitality section was established which sold alcohol, and seats filled to 90 percent capacity. 

"In 2010, with a permanent hospitality area and a full bar, demand was so great that a waiting list was created for the same seats that were empty two years prior," says Dixon and Huang, citing the Assistant Athletics Director for Development.  

But Huang and Dixon contend if alcohol sales are expanded to the entire stadium, it would only generate another $576,001, after dividing revenue with the stadium's concessionaire. 

UT’s Athletics department did not return multiple requests for comment. UT Austin would be the sixth school in Texas to offer alcohol at sporting events.