The College of Maine is present process dramatic and constructive modifications inside the athletic division.
The Harold Alfond Basis’s $90 million present to improve UMaine’s athletic amenities, the college’s record-setting $12 million fundraising marketing campaign and engaging new softball and area hockey amenities have considerably improved circumstances for student-athletes and followers alike on the state college.
Now, UMaine athletic directors are wanting into including beer and wine gross sales on the Alfond Area for UMaine’s males’s and girls’s hockey video games.
At a time when UMaine is investing extra money than ever into its athletic amenities and fan experiences, the college’s resolution to not promote beer at Alfond Area is puzzling. It inhibits the expansion of followers for a staff on the ascent, places this system out of step with nearly all of faculties in its convention and denies the college a possibility to generate income.
It’s time to proceed the proactive method and constructive momentum by including beer and wine gross sales to Alfond Area.
“The College of Maine is assessing all prospects to reinforce the sport day expertise at Alfond Area, together with the sale of alcohol,” the college mentioned in a press release earlier this week when requested if it was contemplating such gross sales at males’s and girls’s hockey video games.
Eric Gordon, UMaine director of communications, additional highlighted the college’s current enhancements together with the brand new high-definition video and LED boards, a modernized sound system and digital signage.
New meals and beverage choices are additionally into account and “no timetable has been set for choices about these choices,” Gordon mentioned.
Nonetheless, alcohol is already out there to sure followers at UMaine hockey video games, and to followers of different sports activities.
Individuals who buy luxurious bins at Alfond Area have nearly each sort of alcohol out there throughout residence video games. In the meantime, there’s a beer tent at UMaine soccer video games in Alfond Stadium and alcohol is out there on the Cross Insurance coverage Middle in Bangor, the place the UMaine males’s and girls’s basketball groups will play a restricted variety of video games this season.
If alcohol wasn’t out there for any UMaine sports activities followers, that’s one factor. However to have it for sure segments of the fan base and never everybody else doesn’t appear truthful.
When Brian Smith, the affiliate commissioner of Hockey East, got here to work for the league because the director of communications 10 years in the past, solely UMass Lowell offered beer to most of the people at its video games.
Now, UMaine is one in all simply three faculties within the 11-team Hockey East males’s division that doesn’t supply beer to the general public at its residence video games. The College of Vermont and Northeastern College are the opposite two.
“A lot has modified in 10 years and that’s undoubtedly one of many developments we now have seen,” mentioned Smith, including that most of the hockey arenas added alcohol gross sales primarily based on the success of pilot packages for basketball and soccer groups.
“It was helpful for these sports activities. It was a web constructive. So there wasn’t a lot resistance when it got here to hockey arenas as a result of it was one thing that had already been profitable,” Smith mentioned.
Steve Napolillo, the athletic director at Windfall School, mentioned the promoting of beer and wine on the college’s Schneider Area has been a “residence run,” calling it a “win-win” for the establishment and the followers.
UNH athletic director Allison Wealthy and Boston School and former UMaine athletic director Blake James concurred.
“We’re at all times trying to present the followers with one of the best game-day expertise we will,” mentioned Wealthy, who famous that one of many beers offered at UNH is named “Go Cats,” which is brewed domestically.
Establishing a relationship with a neighborhood enterprise just like the brewery creates a wholesome connection between the brewery, the college and the group, Wealthy mentioned.
The addition of beer gross sales was meant to “goal the group, not the scholars,” Wealthy added, though college students 21 years of age or older are welcome to benefit from beer gross sales too.
Windfall equally provides a “Friartown” IPA and UMaine has a “Go Blue” IPA brewed by the Orono Brewing Firm.
“School hockey is a enterprise and it’s not sufficient to be only a family-friendly choice any extra,” Smith mentioned. “You want to have the ability to have interaction a distinct selection and a wider spectrum of followers who wish to come to the video games for various causes.”
Smith added that by with the ability to entice extra followers, it gives a greater expertise for the student-athletes as a result of they are going to be enjoying in entrance of bigger crowds.
James mentioned that whereas the addition of beer and wine gross sales in 2017-18 on the 7,884-seat Conte Discussion board at Boston School wasn’t a “game-changer,” it’s nonetheless a valued money-maker.
The addition of beer and wine gross sales on the college’s 44,500-seat Alumni Stadium for soccer, nonetheless, supplied BC with a “sizeable leap” in income.
The first concern for faculties considering the addition of beer and wine is the potential of unruly fan habits. However Napolillo, Wealthy and James mentioned they’ve had no such points and Smith mentioned he hasn’t heard of any, both.
Venues restrict the variety of beers or glasses of wine you should buy at one time. Typically it’s as few as one or two.
And the value of a beer might be steep for a university pupil, who might be much less more likely to buy alcohol on the venue.
The college ought to think about performing rapidly on this, and supply beer and wine as quickly as the subsequent residence sequence in opposition to Boston School on Nov. 10-11.