Nebraska would sell alcohol at the Big Ten wrestling championships in March if university regents approve a policy revision at its meeting next week, opening the possibility of booze being available at Cornhuskers football games.
Athletic department leaders have long considered selling alcohol at their venues, and their interest has increased recently as they've looked for ways to develop new revenue sources. At least half the schools in the major conferences, and eight of the 14 in the Big Ten, sell alcohol.
Athletic director Trev Alberts said in a radio interview last week he knows opinions are divided on the matter and that there were no definite plans to open the taps. Nebraska-Omaha began selling alcohol at its venues when Alberts was athletic director at that school.
“The proposed regents policy would create a unified set of policies for all campuses," chancellor Ronnie Green said in a statement. “Specific to UNL facilities and events, we have had ongoing conversations with the city of Lincoln for several years around this possibility. With respect to Husker Athletics, Trev and I have been considering this carefully and will thoughtfully approach how best to move forward.”
Tom Osborne, the Cornhuskers' College Football Hall of Fame coach from 1973-1997, voiced strong opposition to alcohol sales when he was athletic director from 2007-12. Subsequent athletic directors Shawn Eichorst and Bill Moos did not rule out exploring alcohol sales but the university didn't move forward until now.
Alcohol sales have been a dependable money-maker for athletic departments across the country. Schools are looking for ways to keep fans coming to stadiums and arenas and, in the last year, recoup some of ticket, concession and merchandise revenue lost during the pandemic.
Nebraska regents will meet Feb. 11 to consider two alcohol-related matters.
First, they'll vote on a proposed change that would permit the university president and chancellors to authorize the sale and consumption of alcohol at athletic events on their respective campuses. The change also would allow alcohol advertising and sponsorships on university property with the approval of the chancellor.
Regents also will consider an amendment to its agreement with the City of Lincoln for operation of Pinnacle Bank Arena to allow alcohol sales at the Big Ten wrestling championships March 5-6.
The sale of alcohol at future athletic events at the arena would require an additional amendment to the regents' agreement with the City of Lincoln.