As part of an announcement regarding the new premium seating areas set to be constructed as part of the $64.5 million renovation to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, the Florida Gators announced that beer and wine will be sold at both football and basketball games next season.
Alcohol sales will begin with the first football game of the 2016 season and be limited to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium’s premium seating areas – the Touchdown Terrace and Champions Club.
Florida basketball patrons will be able to purchase beer and wine once construction of the O’Dome is complete in Dec. 2016. Just like football, alcohol sales will be limited to the new premium seating areas – the Sideline Club and Courtside Club.
Sales will conclude at the end of the third quarter during football games and as the second half gets underway for basketball games.
The Gators made sure to note in their press release that their move to sell beer and wine – a first for athletic events on the University of Florida campus – has become more “commonplace on campuses across the country,” and they are most certainly correct in that regard.
Texas, for example, began making beer and wine available to all fans – not just those in premium seating areas – at the start of the 2015 season. Ohio State began selling alcohol in its suites and club-level seats in 2015 as well.
Of course, Florida is not making this move purely to satisfy its fans. It has been estimated by a variety of published surveys that college football stadiums can bring in an additional $1-2 million simply by serving alcohol to fans in premium seating areas.
Update: According to the University Athletic Association, the program estimates that it will bring in closer to $145,000 in additional revenue as alcohol will only be available at 25 games next season (seven football, 18 basketball) and for approximately seven percent of fans at those venues.
As UF notes in its release, it will be the sixth SEC school to sell beer and wine at football games and the fourth to do so at basketball games. Southeastern Conference policy does not allow alcohol sales to the general public, but by limiting beer and wine to the premium sections, the Gators are able to skirt this rule.