Sports facilities might sell alcohol in club rooms

Than Tibbetts

One perk of a club room at a Gophers basketball or hockey game might soon crumble because of constricting athletics budgets.

Athletics officials said they are thinking about selling beer and wine, which is now served for free in club rooms.

Mike Bjorkman, associate director for annual giving, said he proposed that the athletics department begin charging for alcoholic beverages, mainly for financial reasons.

“Obviously, budgets are tight around here, and anywhere we can make up some money, that certainly would be one of them,” he said. “But we haven’t had any real formal discussions about it.”

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said selling alcohol in the club rooms would require several changes, possibly even including legislative action to allow the University to sell alcohol at sports facilities.

The Metrodome is the only other place where alcohol is served at Gophers games and the only place where it is sold in general admission seating. Maturi said there are no plans to serve alcohol anywhere else.

In the meantime, game-goers in the club room can still have a beer free of charge.

Athletics officials said charging for alcohol could also help slow down some people who consume too much, though they would not say overconsumption was a problem.

“For most people, it’s just having a beer or two and watching the game,” Bjorkman said.

Donna Peterson, vice president for the Office of University Relations, said the situation sounded similar to that of Northrop Auditorium, where audience members can purchase a glass of wine during intermission.

But “in Northrop we had to get a state statute changed to be able to have the sale of alcohol,” she said.

Not much has been made of the proposal because it would likely require approval from the Board of Regents and the State Legislature.

With the state mired in a partial government shutdown and no new action likely until the next legislative session, the proposal will have to wait.

Rowing boathouse

In other athletics news, athletics officials will present a schematic design for a rowing facility to the board Wednesday.

If built, the $4.6 million facility would be located in the East River Flats Park on land owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The board approved preliminary plans for the University’s rowing facility in February.

The facility will house the varsity women’s rowing team and the men’s club team. The women’s rowing team is the second-largest varsity sport at the University – second only to football – and the only one without a permanent facility.