If you're an Illinois fan and want to have a beer at an Illini football game in 2019, you're in luck.
The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced on Tuesday morning it will add beer to public concession options in general seating areas at Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center beginning in the fall of 2019.
Plans to allow beer sales at Illinois Field and Eichelberger Field are also being finalized, according to the DIA, and it's possible Illinois will offer public beer sales for the final three Big Ten baseball series at Illinois Field this spring. Beer availability at softball games is expected to begin in 2020.
"We are continually looking for ways to improve fan engagement and augment our in-game fan experience," Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said in a statement. "The opportunity to purchase beer at our events was the number one request in a postseason survey of our football ticket holders. Fans indicated beer sales would encourage their use of purchased tickets and would increase the length of time they stayed in the stands. Schools with public beer sales generally see fewer alcohol-related issues. We have spoken with several peer institutions offering beer to ensure we are following best practices for implementing this change. We have studied the issue extensively and, with the collaboration and support of our colleagues in various offices across campus, we feel now is the right time to add this new element to our game-day experience."
The DIA will have policies in place to enforce as part of a complete alcohol management plan.
Those polices include:
-Valid ID is required for purchase. All guests must be 21 years of age to purchase alcoholic beverages.
-A limit of two beers purchased at one time per legal ID for stands in the east/west side and horsehoe at Memorial Stadium.
-Limit of one beer purchased at a time per legal ID in the north stands, where students traditionally sit
-Sales would begin when gates open at football (90 minutes prior to kickoff) and basketball (60 minutes prior to tip)
-Beer sales would end at the end of the third quarter during football games, while monitoring night games for a time to to be determined. During basketball games at State Farm Center, sales will end at a predetermined time after halftime. At baseball games, beer sales would be suspended after the middle of the seventh inning, and for softball games, after the middle of the fifth inning.
-Beers will be sold in aluminum cans and bottles. Additional recycling receptacles will be added at Memorial Stadium and other venues. As has been the case for several years, all trash from Memorial Stadium is processed through the campus recycling center.
Plans are to sell 16-ounce beverages in only cans or plastic/alumnium bottles. In Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center, tentative prices will be $7 for domestic beer and $8 for premium and craft beers. Prices at baseball and softball games are tentatively set between $5 to $6.
More than 50 of the 129 FBS football teams allow in-stadium alcohol sales to the general public, according to the DIA, and Illinois will join five other Big Ten schools selling beer in-stadium in the fall of 2019, including Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Rutgers. In addition, the NCAA Executive Council recently approved alcohol sales at NCAA Championship events.
Beginning with the 2019 football season, beer will be available at several general stands around Memorial Stadium and the other facilities. A wider selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks will continue to be sold only in premium club/suite areas of the stadium and arena. A portion of revenues generated by the increased sales will help pay for additional police officers and other additional security measures at home football games.