On July 10, the NC State Board of Trustees voted to allow alcohol sales at sporting events, foreshadowing increased concessions revenue and a different gameday dynamic for football games.
In seasons past, there has been a significant difference of fans after halftime, especially against early-season opponents. The assumption is that some of them return to their tailgates to drink at the break and never return to the stadium.
“First of all, I'm excited for our fans,” said head coach Dave Doeren at the ACC Football Kickoff on Wednesday. “I think the entertainment is such an important part of game day for them.… But now for them to be able to buy beer, if that's important to them, have the opportunity to do that in the shade under the stands at halftime. I know there's going to be a lot of different spots where they can do that, then be back in there for us.”
Doeren has been vocal in the past year about the fans leaving before the second half. He notices and the players notice too, so it’s time for fans to stay in the stadium. Although there are a number of noon games in the hottest months of the year, alcohol and other measures to keep fans cool should be enough to make sure the second half is as loud as the first.
“Our sidelines to the bench, our parents sit right behind them, our recruits sit behind,” Doeren said. “Our student section is incredible. It brings energy, creates an advantage for our football team. We want that for four quarters.”
There is a lot of hope behind this new policy. Athletics will get the revenue from alcohol sales along with the hope for more total fans in attendance. The players are expecting a much-needed boost of energy in the third quarter.
“That is firing everyone up,” said junior offensive tackle Justin Witt. “It’s definitely going to bring more of an electric atmosphere in the third quarter because we had a lot of fans who would leave to go drink in the parking lot. But now they are going to be able to drink in the games, and it’s definitely going to make it more rowdy in the stadium. We feed off that energy. We definitely notice the energy coming from our fans.”
Whether or not the expected benefits come to fruition will be unknown until the first couple weeks of the season, but either way, a certain buzz should be around the opening game against East Carolina on Aug. 31.
“Our fans are excited. I’m sure all the fans in the state are excited to have alcohol in the stands,” said graduate defensive end James Smith-Williams. “I think for me as a player, I want my fans to be in the stands the whole game and I want them to be enjoying the experience. If beer does that, great, put it in the stands.”