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Will IU Continue Alcohol Sales At Football Games?

alcohol sales

(Zach Herndon)

With the first season of alcohol sales at Memorial Stadium complete, an IU alumnus asked City Limits, what is the record of incident reports since the ban on alcohol sales was lifted, and what’s next?

Indiana University’s Memorial Stadium became one of seven Big Ten schools to allow the sale of beer and wine during football games as part of a pilot program.

Indiana University Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Fred Glass announced earlier this month that IU experienced a 25% decrease in alcohol-related incidents this past season.

Excise police spokesperson Lyndsay Hyer says only 7 citations were issued in the tailgating area across from the stadium in 2019. That’s compared to 22 in 2018. Indiana State Police is responsible for enforcement in the tailgate area, excise focuses its efforts in the permit areas, inside and outside the stadium.  

That decrease, some financial benefits for IU and funding for a student program to reduce substance abuse are all reasons alcohol sales may be here to stay.

Dr. Anita Glasson is a Board-Certified Adult Psychiatrist for IU Health. She says the psychology behind why alcohol-related incidents dropped when beer and wine sales were introduced is pretty straight forward.

”It’s because it serves to decrease the alcohol binging that happens prior to the games.”

Glasson says that a typical college student’s brain is still continuing to develop until the age of 25. The pre-frontal cortex is the part of the brain that leads people to make good decisions and since students are not fully developed until the age of 25, external controls on behavior are very beneficial.

“People that will stop serving you, security, those sorts of things lead young adults to make better decisions," says Glasson.

In addition to decreasing alcohol-related incidents, IU grossed more than $470,000 during the six home football games in 2019, and netted just over $200,000.

IU Athletics will share 10% of that profit with the IU Dean of Students Office in support of substance use prevention programming. That comes to $20,000.

Heather Barrett is the Director of the Substance Use Intervention Services Program at IU Bloomington. She says that IU Athletics consulted with her office about issues to look for or be concerned about before deciding to implement the pilot program.

Barrett says the Substance Use Intervention Services Program sets up tables around campus to provide information and gives presentations around campus on harm reduction. 

“Harm reduction looks like anything from abstinence to if you are going to use alcohol and or possibly other substances are there ways you can minimize any risks.”

Barrett says while intervention is vitally important, prevention is as well.

“Prevention is such an important part of dealing with substance use.”

IU Senior Associate Athletic Director Jeremy Gray says the pilot program was successful in many ways.

While it’s not been formally decided, Gray says he believes the sales will continue.

“Fans coming to Memorial Stadium next year will be able to get a beer or glass of wine while they watch IU football games," Gray says.

Gray says that the 10% allocation is a great way to integrate the university and help officials achieve one of their core missions, which is a reduction in substance abuse.

“That will continue to be a part of the program well into the future," Gray says. "We believe it’s a cornerstone of the effort itself.”

When asked if the program were being considered for other sports venues on campus, he said while university officials are sticking to football for now, other options were being considered.

“Natural and part of the culture of going to a baseball game or to a soccer match so those are some of the venues I think in the short term might be considered.”

So while the outcome of the pilot program was quite successful in the eyes of organizers and patrons alike, there isn’t a definitive answer as to if, when or where the beer and wine sales will continue.

Have a question? Ask City Limits:

Our community is changing, from closing businesses to traffic and road construction to affordable housing, and we see the impact of these changes all around us.

We want to know: What questions do you have about how the Bloomington of tomorrow will impact your work, your personal life, your community and your future?

Here’s how it works: You submit a question you’d like us to explore about how Bloomington has changed over the past few decades, what you want to see for the city in the future and how ties with IU continue to shape the community.  

So: What do you wonder about how Bloomington is changing and how it impacts your life?

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