Football: Still no alcohol sales at Ryan Field for 2019 season, school confirms


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Ryan Field. There will be no public alcohol sales at Northwestern’s football stadium this fall, an athletic department spokesman confirmed to The Daily.

Ella Brockway, Reporter


Fans hoping to watch Northwestern football from their seat at Ryan Field with a cold beer in their hands will have to wait a little bit longer.

There will be no public alcohol sales at Ryan Field this fall, athletic department spokesman Paul Kennedy confirmed to The Daily. Beer and wine will continue to be available before games outside the stadium at the N Zone, which opened last season.

The confirmation comes as many universities around the country are making moves to allow alcohol sales at their football stadiums, in efforts to bring in more revenue to athletic departments and improve the gameday experience amid declining attendance numbers.

More than 60 universities across the FBS allow alcohol sales at their football stadiums, either throughout the full stadium or in select premium seating areas. This spring, the Southeastern Conference officially reversed its long-standing policy against alcohol sales at football games, paving the way for the trend to extend to more schools.

Seven of the 14 schools in the Big Ten allow stadium-wide alcohol sales at football games: Indiana, Illinois, Rutgers, Minnesota, Maryland, Purdue and Ohio State. Beer and wine are available only in premium seating areas at three other schools in the conference: Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin.

Big Ten universities that have allowed alcohol sales at football stadiums have seen both decreases in safety incidents and increases in revenue to the athletic department.

Ohio State saw a 65 percent drop in alcohol-related offenses after it began selling alcohol at Ohio Stadium in 2016. Alcohol sales began at Purdue’s Ross-Ade Stadium for the first time in 2017, and generated more than $1 million in revenue.

The main hurdle prohibiting alcohol sales at Ryan Field is the stadium’s location in a residential neighborhood, Kennedy said. In July, a city council proposal that would alter the city’s liquor code and allow public alcohol sales at the neighboring Welsh-Ryan Arena was met with heavy criticism from Evanston residents.

Alcohol sales at Welsh-Ryan are currently only permitted inside the Wilson Club, a premium seating space that can be accessed with a donation of at least $6,000.

The proposed amendment to change the rules for liquor licenses would not extend to Ryan Field. The vote was tabled until a later date that has yet to be determined.

The objection to public alcohol sales at Welsh-Ryan came on the heels of further resident opposition to Northwestern’s motion to host professional sporting events and concerts at the arena. That proposal will go before the Evanston Plan Commission this month.

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