Fans will soon be able to buy beer and wine at Illinois State University Athletics events—and not just in premium seating locations.
ISU Athletics announced Thursday it’s opening beer and wine sales to public concession stands at Redbird Arena and Hancock Stadium starting this fall. Alcohol has been sold in limited seating areas only for several years; this will expand beer and wine sales to everyone over age 21.
Athletics Director Larry Lyons said they’re hoping it might boost attendance for certain events. They’re also expecting some increase in concessions revenue as a result, he said.
“It’s becoming the norm across the country,” Lyons said. “We know it will improve our gameday experience. We know our fans will enjoy the enhancement of their food and beverage offerings. So we’re excited to bring that to them starting this fall.”
Lyons previously told WGLT that ISU and other colleges and universities have faced declining attendance at athletics events in recent years, because of television and so much else competing for our time. Another change ISU is making is new seating inside Redbird Arena. That work is underway now.
Many other public universities already allow alcohol sales at athletic events, Lyons said. The University of Illinois announced in April it will start selling beer in general seating areas at Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center this fall.
“We hope this might help a little bit (with attendance),” Lyons said. “We want to make sure the fans coming now have an enjoyable experience. If it helps bring a few more people in the doors, we’ll obviously take advantage of that. The primary reason is to improve the fan experience.”
Thursday’s announcement impacts public concession stands in general seating areas at Hancock Stadium and Redbird Arena beginning in fall 2019. Plans to allow beer sales at Adelaide Street Field, Marian Kneer Stadium and Duffy Bass Field are also being finalized.
A wider selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks will continue to be sold only in premium club/suite areas of the stadium and arena.
People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.