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Can Beer Bring Back Gopher Fans?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It is a big part of the culture on any university campus. No matter the sport, crowded stadiums and arenas generate both excitement and revenues.

"A winning culture gets a lot of fans whipped up," said Gopher sports fan Joe Heili.

Sadly, fewer Gopher fans are filling the seats at University of Minnesota venues. Heili let his season tickets go.

"My dad and I, you know, we had to come way before a game, hang out at [Stub & Herb's], get a couple of beers and then go over there," Heili said. "I think it will help … it's more of a destination, the game is a destination."

Gopher Fan Seats
(credit: CBS)

Besides cutting some season ticket prices, University President Eric Kaler thinks broader beer and wine sales at Mariucci and Williams arenas can help. In his memo to Regents, Kaler projects it will raise a quarter million dollars in revenue. But more importantly, increase ticket sales.

"I mean, any way to get attendance up, that'd be great, I know the students would love it," said U of M senior Jon Oberst.

Fan support is sliding nationwide. But in Minnesota, it's more than team performance. Moving hockey to the Big 10 and competition from professional teams also plays a part. Oberst says with proper controls, it's not a problem.

"I'm about to be an alumni, I would love to celebrate a beer at a game, for sure. Why not?" he said.

WCCO-TV spoke with two university regents who say so long as it's done right, they're supportive. A limit of two drinks per transaction and cut off at halftime for basketball, second intermission for hockey.

The resolution will be voted on at the May regents meeting.


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