"Bear Down, Drink Up"

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Sex sells, so we have a pom squad.


Entertainment sells, so we have pregame fireworks and a marching band.


Beer sells, so where's the tap at in Arizona Stadium?


As disposable income shrivels in a horridly hard-hit state, the upper-deck corner bleachers shine under the stadium's lights. But it's an eyesore of emptiness.


As the tailgating buzz fades every time officials utter the word ""offsides,"" the Zona Zoo piles through the exits, starting with the halftime, mass exodus. No matter what the score.


So how can UA Athletic Director Jim Livengood sell more tickets and keep the house packed all game?


Keep the buzz alive — sell beer.


It's what university police departments fear, yet university checkbooks can't resist: beer sales during college football games.


It's legal to tailgate and drink beer on the UA Mall on gameday — what's so special about the orb around chalked grass and field goals?


Bottom line: It's a money thing.


Almost 40 of the biggest NCAA Division I schools permit beer sales, according to The Wall Street Journal. Most of those stadiums are off-campus and city- or state-owned, like Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium that hosts University of Memphis football games.


This year, Memphis decided to allow beer sales in order to avoid a projected loss in operating costs. A school official estimated allowing beer sales could bring up to $200,000 in revenue.


It's a money thing.


Insist on playing the morals card? Say beer shouldn't intertwine with a ""classroom-driven"" environment? Do booze sales not represent the perfect ""student-athlete?"" Does it sell the soul of college football?


Or has that soul already been sold to corporate sponsors and lucrative billion-dollar television contracts?


Don't play that hand. College football is a business. Big business. And like any multi-million-dollar company — the UA Athletics Department operates with a self-generated $47 million budget — it's all about offering consumers the product at the right cost.


Simple economics. It's a money thing.


But you insist on an underage drinking problem. God forbid our scholars under 21 get exposed to that forbidden drug.


Or would selling beer ease the pressure to get hammered enough to last the entire game drunk? Isn't binge drinking, as machine-gun-style consumption, more dangerous than a slow-paced marathon?


No matter what, students will try their best to smuggle in alcohol. I've seen someone wear an arm sling and lodge a water bottle of Captain Morgan between the sling and his body.


Forget exploring Mars: Now that's innovative.


Sell beer in clear cups. Sell over-21 wrist bands. Let those yellow security guards do their jobs and pick out non-wrist-band-boozing students.


Heck, add it to the CatCard meal plan.


But you insist drunk driving would surge?


What about those driving to the stadium having downed 14 shots of Jäger and bottle of Faderade on the drive over in anticipation of an upcoming three-hour dry spell?


Cut off beer sales at the fourth quarter.


Then at the end of the season — this one without a particularly ""I've Gotta Be There"" game — use that $200,000 toward the North End Zone expansion to fancy recruits and build a powerhouse that sells out 60,000 tickets each Saturday.


All that from beer money.



— Bryan Roy can be reached at media@wildcat.arizona.edu


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