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Mailing It In: Wasting Away in University Heights?

I leave for a week and now there’s talk of selling beer in Kinnick Stadium. What a world!

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Game 2
Is beer actually coming to Kinnick?
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

You all thought you had finally done it. You thought you had gotten rid of me. I’m not going to lie, you almost did. After taking my first real vacation in more than a year and a half (we were set to fly to Florida for spring break last year when things blew up in our faces), I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think long and hard about just making the travel thing more permanent.

But alas, I’M BACK.

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And wouldn’t you know it if I didn’t come back to a bunch of interesting one-off things that are worthy of some conversation.

There is, of course, the new hotness that is Hawkeye recruiting. Thanks to the NCAA finally opening things up a bit, Iowa is running recruits through the doors like a Nebraska defense. We’ve already seen two commitments on the football front and there is buzz the hoops team could be close behind them. That’s before we even get to the meat of the visits later in the month.

Then there’s talk about the college football playoff expanding. I have some thoughts that we’ll get to later in the week.

But what really has my attention after a week-long vacation with the three kiddos and half of that spent in a home with seven total kids ages six and under is the rumor that Gary Barta is very seriously exploring the sale of alcohol in Kinnick Stadium this fall.

If you’ve been here a while (and let’s be honest, if you’re reading a mailbag solicit, you’ve probably been here a while and are a complete degenerate starving for Hawkeye talk), you know I’ve been pounding the table for alcohol sales at Iowa sporting events for some time. It just makes too much sense. People are consuming booze at football in copious amounts anyway, so might as well make some money off those folks. And when it comes to sports like baseball, where fan engagement is picking up but the user experience is still lacking, it’s an easy way to entice a few more people to spend a few more dollars and close that gap on profitability.

The haters will say this is just asking for more incidents with people in the stadium. Maybe. but do you really think selling $12 Bud Lights to people who have to stand in a line to get them is going to lead to people who weren’t already getting sloppy in the stadium finally going over the edge? I don’t.

And that’s not been the case at Kinnick North either. When Minnesota first started selling alcohol in TCF Bank Stadium way back in 2012, the school actually saw a decrease in alcohol-related incidents around football games from the prior three years. The sales have been successful to the point the school added alcohol sales to both hockey and basketball games in 2019.

The reasoning is simple: money talks. Aside from the decrease in incidents, the school has average $1.3M in annual alcohol sales at football games. The addition of basketball and hockey was expected to drive another $250,000 in annual sales before COVID-19 made its impact.

At a school like Iowa, which has 30% higher stadium capacity for football, it’s easy to see those figures get north of $1.7M for football. That’s not going to close the budget gap created by the lack of ticket sales last season, but in an environment where sports are being cut, every dollar should count.

The question for me is not whether Iowa should move forward with selling alcohol, but on all the details. Can they make more money through an exclusive contract with a company such as Budweiser? Or would they sell more by offering a variety? Will there be designated areas to drink (perhaps the corners?) or will fans be able to get drinks back to their seats? There are loads of opportunity here and while Barta has shown he will do just about anything for some extra dollars, we’ve also seen execution be something less than a strong suit.

What say you, Hawkeye fans? And what questions do you have for me this week?