War Memorial beer sales

A man enjoys a beer while watching Wyoming’s game against Gardner-Webb on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie. Beer and wine was sold inside the stadium for the first time during the season home opener.

Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune

At the first University of Wyoming football game since the school began selling beer and wine at War Memorial Stadium, law enforcement said it was much like games in past years.

“I can tell you there was no significant difference that was noticed by law enforcement at the University of Wyoming game in the sense of wine and alcohol sales,” Laramie Police Department Lt. Gwen Smith said. “Of course, we don’t know if that would be the trend or if there were other factors in play at this game.”

University of Wyoming Police Department Chief Mike Samp echoed Smith. He said his department normally writes between 15 and 17 citations during the first game of the season. On Saturday, it wrote only 10.

He said they had eight medical incidents during the game, three of which were alcohol-related. But he added that they were near the beginning of the game and thus were likely related to tailgating, rather than in-stadium purchases.

“We think the sales actually went pretty well,” he said. “We didn’t have any documented DUIs. We put a lot of effort into marketing and logistics.”

Samp said there was a slight increase in the number of officers at the game compared to past games, and more have been requested for this week’s game against Oregon, given the magnitude of the game and the expected crowd size.

University officials announced in November that the school would begin offering beer and wine sales at both football and basketball games. At least six other schools in the Cowboys’ conference already offered alcohol sales inside of their stadiums.

In November, athletic director Tom Burman said the sales could bring in at least $290,000 in additional revenue. It’s unclear how much was sold Saturday. Bill Sparks, senior assistant athletic director, said the university made less than expected Saturday, but that it was new revenue that they didn’t have before. He said he wasn’t yet sure how much money was made.

From the sales side, he said everything went pretty well. Officials will make some “tweaks and adjustments,” like moving locations based on lengthy lines and adding more of a specific kind of beer if it was especially popular, before the Oregon game Saturday.

In addition to more police presence, the university instituted a number of rules, including a no-entry policy and the elimination of tailgating after kick off. Alcohol sales will also be stopped at the end of the third quarter for football games and midway through the second half for basketball games.

Officials have said they hope the policy will also decrease binge drinking before games. Other universities that offer in-game alcohol, like West Virginia, have reported fewer arrests and safety issues in the wake of the change.

Follow education reporter Seth Klamann on Twitter @SethKlamann

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Star-Tribune reporter Seth Klamann covers local and statewide education issues.

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