Beer, wine for sale at NDSU basketball games, wrestling
FARGO (AP) — North Dakota State University is adding beer and wine to its list of beverages for sale at basketball games and wrestling matches, hoping to attract more fans and improve the atmosphere at the school known most for football _ and the tailgating that precedes those games.
Bison athletic director Matt Larsen said Wednesday that most fans he’s talked with like the idea, in part because it has become “more commonplace” in college sports. He said he hopes to create a “great home court advantage” at the school’s 5,600-seat arena. The men’s basketball team averaged 2,231 fans last season, a year in which it qualified for the NCAA tournament.
Larsen said he also has heard some complaints.
“There have been some folks who don’t like the decision,” he said. “We knew that would be the case and certainly respect both sides. But I think all in all the feedback has been generally positive.”
Some critics of the move point to numerous surveys in recent years ranking North Dakota as one of the worst states in the country for both underage and binge drinking. Others, like North Dakota State student Delaney Halloran, say there’s already a problem with college students under 21 drinking at football tailgating. She wrote a column in the school newspaper last month criticizing the “drunken stupidity” that comes from pre-game parties.
“Don’t misunderstand me, I’m aware that a huge part of any sport’s culture has to do with drinking,” Halloran wrote. “However, the level to which students end up disregarding the game, coupled with the unbelievable amount of underage drinking that occurs on game days, paint a picture that’s far more depressing than what should be expected.”
Larsen said he appreciates Halloran’s perspective but believes “a large majority of folks are responsible” at Bison tailgating.
Kathryn Burgum, the wife of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, has made addiction the platform of her service as first lady with a program called Recovery Reinvented. They declined to comment about the North Dakota State announcement.
All fans will have to wear a valid wristband on game day to purchase or possess alcohol. Sales begin when doors open an hour prior to game time and stop at the end of the third quarter in women’s basketball, the 10-minute mark of the second half in men’s basketball and the seventh of 10 scheduled bouts in wrestling.
Larsen was non-committal about the possibility of changing the no-alcohol policy at the Fargodome during Bison football games, which has been debated for many years.
“I think right now it’s very much an apples and oranges conversation,” said Larsen, referring to alcohol sales at the two arenas. “We looked at basketball and wrestling in isolation and what we could do to enhance things as part of a marketing package. I think the Fargodome is a completely different conversation at this point.”