LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas announced Wednesday that it will begin selling beer and wine at home football games this season, joining a growing number of Big 12 schools to offer alcohol sales at sporting events.
Cue the jokes about the Jayhawks’ long-suffering football team.
Kansas athletic director Jeff Long said the sales will begin with the season opener Aug. 31 against Indiana State. It is an expansion of a trial program in various venues, including Memorial Stadium, where alcohol has been served in suites and premium seating areas.
“Our research and that of others indicates that not only does alcohol availability promote attendance and improve the game-day experience for fans, it has the potential to reduce alcohol-related incidents in and around the venue,” Long said.
Kansas averaged just 20,265 fans at home games last season, which is roughly 40 percent of Memorial Stadium’s capacity of just over 50,000. The average attendance was about half of the next-worst attendance in the league, and often there were far fewer fans by the time the second half began.
Much of that was due to the fact Kansas was suffering through another miserable season.
The Jayhawks, who hired Les Miles this past offseason to turn things around, have not won more than three games in a season in a decade. Miles is the fourth coach — not counting Clint Bowen’s interim stint — to attempt to rebuild the program since Mark Mangino’s tenure ended with the 2009 season.
Kansas implemented the trial program the past two years that included beer and wine sales at its baseball, softball and soccer stadiums. Earlier this year, Chancellor Douglas Girod sought advice from a committee comprised of school and community leaders to develop an alcohol policy for football.
Those serving alcohol will be specially certified, and all alcohol sales will be suspended at the end of the third quarter. There also will be a “no re-entry” policy at Memorial Stadium.
There are about 50 Division I schools that now offer alcohol sales at football games, including Big 12 members Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas and Texas Tech. Even more offer sales in select areas.
Last year, the NCAA approved alcohol sales at its championship events for the first time.
“Fans have told us that one of the best ways to enhance their experience at Kansas athletics events is for them to have the ability to enjoy beer and wine,” Long said in a statement, “and we are pleased to provide this opportunity.”