Matt Tait: Beer sales at Memorial Stadium worth the risk for Kansas football

Kansas wide receiver Jeremiah Booker (88) catches a touchdown pass before Rutgers linebacker Tyreek Maddox-Williams (44) during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Selling beer at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium won’t automatically fill the place with 50,000 rabid KU football fans.

But it’s a start.

And, frankly, I’m not sure what took this long.

Wednesday morning, KU officials announced that beer and wine would be sold inside KU football’s home stadium during the upcoming season.

The move is yet another indication that Athletic Director Jeff Long has the pedal all the way down in his attempt to pull the long-suffering program out of the misery of the past nine years.

And this move, just like hiring Les Miles, doubling the size of the football support staff and pushing for recruiting rule changes that might help Kansas compete faster, is absolutely worth whatever risk is involved.

Sure, introducing alcohol into an environment where tempers run hot and stress and intensity are commonplace can create problems. And to think that alcohol-related incidents won’t pop up from time to time as a result of this decision is more than a little naïve.

But Long and company, through education and preparation, are betting on themselves to handle whatever incidents might arise. In doing so, they also are taking a big step toward bringing the program back to the fans.

It’s one thing to toss Miles on television and radio commercials with the sound of his voice asking KU fans to be a part of the fun this fall. And it’s another thing for Miles to buy KU students lunch or hang out on Wescoe Beach playing tailgate games and offering prizes.

But this move takes fan engagement to a whole new level and provides added incentive for KU fans, young and old, to make Memorial Stadium the place to be on Saturdays instead of choosing to watch games on television with a keg and few friends at home or in the parking lot or with their favorite bartender a few miles down the road.

The goal for that type of fan engagement is obvious and important.

Yes, alcohol sales means more money for the university and, yes, that money means shinier toys for KU’s athletic programs.

Just imagine the potential here, as KU plays an average of six home games per season and is riding a paltry six-year average of 28,523 fans per game.

If even just a quarter of those people purchase just one beer or glass of wine at $8 a pop per game, that’s an additional $342,000 per season and that kind of cash is nothing to sneeze at.

Again, that $342,000 would be the take (official drink prices are not yet known) from just a quarter of a half-empty stadium partaking in one drink a game. And while we’re being real, we all know that one cocktail per game probably won’t be the going rate for many fans.

More than any of that, though, the program that for nearly a decade has been waiting for momentum on the field to put fans back in the stands is finally being proactive in creating that momentum.

Long asked and listened, and now happy hour is again a part to KU football.

The theory goes like this: Give the fans what they want — victories in the long term and booze in the short term — and they will feel more invested in the program and be more willing to put their time, money and personal efforts into helping the football team get back on track.

None of it will lead directly to better completion percentages, more first downs or fewer fumbles, but all of it — and more to the point any of it — will go a long way toward giving Kansas a real shot of becoming relevant in football again.

And isn’t that the ultimate goal here?

After a series of hirings and firings, facility upgrades and promotional efforts, KU finally appears to have hopped on a rebuilding wagon that has no brakes.

This latest move is the biggest indication of that, and Long and company claim to have done their homework and consider themselves ready for whatever it may bring.

Whether you favor light beer or craft beer, red wine or white, making all of it readily available at Kansas football games is worth whatever risk might be associated with it.

Comments

Eric Eakins

"And while we’re being real, we all know that one cocktail per game probably won’t be the going rate for many fans." If the team shows no improvement, I might not be able to drive home.

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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Matt Tait

Might make sure you have the Uber app downloaded for the first year, just in case.

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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Micky Baker

It's a good idea if you don't want so many to leave at halftime.

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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Dane Pratt

Due to financial reasons my guess is that students will continue to consume adult beverages in Memorial the old fashioned way. A flask of rum to top off their cola and/or oranges injected with vodka.

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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Matt Tait

I hear ya, but even soft drinks aren't cheap any more. $5 a bottle or something like that? To me, the crazy prices of concessions these days is one of the saddest deals in sports.

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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Robert Brock

I have been to a few University of Texas games in Austin and enjoyed a good craft beer while watching games. They handle beer sales and consumption well. I don’t know why KU couldn’t do the same.

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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Matt Tait

I think that's the key. There are always going to be issues and concerns but KU would not be going down this road — even if it does promise big bucks — if they weren't prepared to handle things the right way. They're not going to let their potentially biggest money maker turn into a hazing ritual at a frat party in the 80s.

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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John Strayer

KU won't pocket $8 per beer...the product and delivery of the product has costs. Typically food and beverage sales have a 40% to 50% profit margin. So maybe instead of using $8 per in the calcs you should be using a more realistic $4?

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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Matt Tait

That's probably true and a solid point. Even with that, you're still looking at close to a quarter of a million dollars per season and that's based on low-end consumption numbers.

If people consume more than one a game and if the crowds go up, the revenue goes up, too.

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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Jay Scott

Per Season?

30,000 fans x 2 beers = 70,000 beers at $4 profit (...or 5) profit each = $280K

$280,000 One game.

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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Joe Ross

Jay Scott's genius math.

30,000 x 2 beers = 70,000 beers.

He's drunk already, evidently...

"Genius."

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Jay Scott

A very valid observation. A man who lacks the character and courage to apologize for such an error is not a man. I humbly apologize.

How big is this error? 10,000. It's huge. 10,000 is half as many dollars as Harrison Barnes earns for each NBA point he scores. It's also as about as much as Perry Ellis, his equal in every way, according to Joe Ross, earns each month in Japan....

Imagine a person who lacks the substance to apologize for such an error...

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Jeff Kallmeyer

I have no problem with beer and wine sales within the stadium. However, I have a big problem with not allowing fans back if they leave to tailgate at halftime!

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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Tony Bandle

Random Thoughts:

1] Maybe if they can sell enough beer and wine during the first half, no one will leave after the halftime band show.......because they won't be able to. :}.

2] All I am truly hoping for this first Miles season is the stopping of the downward momentum of this program. Be competitive, show some excitement, give us Jayhawks some hope, win a few games but at least show us that this regime has a clue on how to rebuild a program.

3] Me just commenting on KU football is some kind of landmark since I haven't paid attention to this program for the last five years.

4] Based on the schedule, there are two games they should win, two games they could win, four games the have a small chance of winning and four games they don't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning, so 3 victories may be the limit this season.

5] What the state of Kansas needs to do is legalize MJ, and then no one will care what happens on the field but everyone will have a great time!!

6] My strategy........give the ball to Pooka as much as humanly possible.

3 months, 4 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

Bad idea...PERIOD!!!!!......most schools are rejecting it across the country.

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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