Pete Batule helped carry several crates, each stowing a few dozen 16-ounce beer cans and he did it with a smile.
IU’s 2019 home opener against Eastern Illinois University had just ended its third quarter with the Hoosiers up 42-0.
In between quarters, a wave of fans headed out to Memorial Stadium’s new beer and wine stands, but are disappointed to find Batule, COO of Upland Brewing Company, and his crew packing up for the day.
Hoosier fans had to learn the hard way that Memorial Stadium shuts down its sale of alcohol at the conclusion of the third period, but Batule is confident that three quarters were enough.
“I’ve seen a lot of smiling faces and people enjoying the game, enjoying the opportunity to drink a few beers while they watch the Hoosiers,” Batule said. “Overall, I think it’s been really positive.”
Earlier this spring, the athletics department announced that IU would become the seventh Big Ten school to sell beer and/or wine at home football games. Upland was named as the local distributor to partner with the university when IU Athletics released more information about the program last month.
An area of tailgating fields already surround Memorial Stadium, but having alcohol for sale inside the stadium is a game-changer for many fans.
“Obviously it will add some fun to the game as long as everyone is drinking responsibly,” Roy Anderson said after purchasing a Bud Light at the end of the third quarter. “It opens people up and makes everything more fun.”
College football and athletics are some of the biggest contributors to the underage drinking culture at major universities throughout the country and because of that, illegal consumption in the stadium is a high priority for the sales program in its pilot season said IUPD Capt. Shannon Bunger.
Bunger said the first lines of defense are the people and the vendors at the stadium.
“See something, say something. If I’m a parent here at the game and I look over and see someone that doesn’t look 21 with a beer, I think it’s my responsibility to go up to an officer or usher and say ‘Hey, this doesn’t look right.’”said Bunger.
Bunger said the police were able to limit the number of issues in and around the stadium Saturday, but he expects it to be a bigger crowd next weekend when IU plays No. 5 Ohio State.
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