ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – University of New Mexico’s administration is backing efforts to expand beer and wine sales at University Stadium and WisePies Arena a.k.a The Pit.
Currently, you can only find alcohol at Lobo football and basketball games in the higher priced seats, available to just a fraction of fans at the games. That could change as soon as this fall.
“We’re looking at potentially implementing it for the fall for the football season,” said UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs. “We’re still researching our ability to effectively manage it for basketball.”
Krebs made the case for expanding that to a regents committee Tuesday morning.
“There are four reasons,” Krebs said. “Revenue generation, less issues of alcohol abuse in the parking lot, better crowd control within the stadium and I think it’ll have a positive effect on attendance.”
UNM President Bob Frank is already on board with the idea, citing a current problem where students and others will drink excessively before the game knowing that they can’t get alcohol inside.
“I’ve seen people chugging as much as they can before they go in and then there’s extreme intoxication,” said grad student Kyle Henke.
“We could manage it better than that situation,” said Frank. “So I think it’s something that we could make safer by selling in the stadium.”
It was unclear as of Tuesday morning if the regents would need to approve expanding alcohol sales or if administrators can make the decision without a formal vote. Either way, the athletic department has already asked for the regents to approve the change.
UNM says it would need more security at games and more training for vendors if sales are expanded. There will also be signage put up discouraging drunk driving. The plan for football would be to stop selling alcohol at the end of the third quarter.
Krebs estimates at least 40 other schools are selling beer at their football games.
“I think the tipping point for us was when the NCAA decided to move forward with public sale of alcohol at two of their national championships this spring,” Krebs said. “To me it signaled a pretty significant change on the national level.”
UNM already has the needed liquor license to sell to the general public at games. The school has already used other, non-UNM events like the Ty Murray PBR and Nitro Circus, to test out what expanded alcohol sales at those venues might look like.