USI to try selling beer at basketball games

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Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 6:47 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - USI has toyed with the idea of selling beer at games for a while now, but they say the time wasn’t quite right. Now as they make the switch to Division One, they’ve decided to give it a try. They hope, if all goes well, it gets more people on campus.

If you come to Screaming Eagles Arena to cheer on USI’s basketball teams this year, you may be able to enjoy a sporting event staple that was previously a little hard to come by: beer.

“We’re anxious to see how it goes, and excited that the university has allowed us this opportunity,” said USI Athletic Director, Jon Mark Hall.

The athletic department says their priority is to draw people to campus. They say they contacted other schools in the Ohio Valley Conference, and they said it helped get people through the door.

An increase in concession sales would mean more money in the pocket of the athletic department, but they say that isn’t their priority.

“It was, again, one of many things we’ve looked into that we’ll try to implement over this four-year transitional period going through with Division One to make sure that we engage our community, we engage our fans, we get more people to campus,” said Hall.

The school plans to try selling beer for some of its first home games, then decide whether to make the change more permanent based on how it goes. They say they hope for it to become permanent, but they’ll make the final decision based on how well they can accommodate the demand for concessions, as well if fans get too rowdy. They say they’re ready in case they do.

“Having plans in place with your public safety and security, the sheriff’s office, to make sure that if there is an unruly fan that we have a way to remove that fan from the venue,” said Hall.

They say beer has been available at games already, but only in hospitality areas, and wasn’t available to all fans.

They say athletics often serves as people’s first exposure to a university, so the more people they can get on campus the better.

The athletic department says their first time selling beer will be at the women’s game Friday against Western Illinois, and then the men’s game Sunday against Southern Illinois.