MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Adding beer sales and requiring West Virginia University football fans to stay put throughout games translated to stronger concession sales and fewer arrests this past season, a student who crunched numbers for the athletic department said Friday.
Industrial engineering student Richard Woody told the Board of Governors that concession sales were up 84 percent overall from the previous football season, while food sales were up 60 percent.
Concession sales totaled $613,651 in the 2010-11 season and $744,082 this season, said athletics spokesman Mike Fragale. Add in beer sales, and the total for this past season was $1.26 million.
In pitching a change to the school's alcohol policy last year, Athletic Director Oliver Luck estimated WVU could make as much as $1.2 million a season in beer sales alone, depending on weather, attendance and team performance. This past season, it made nearly $520,000.
Woody, who gathered data from stadium staff and from WVU and city police, also said the number of calls, arrests and charges filed on game days was down across the board. That included underage drinking and open container violations.
"I think it worked," said WVU Police Chief Bob Roberts, who supported Luck's multipronged plan to reduce binge drinking and bad behavior by selling beer at Mountaineer Field for the first time and ending a long-standing practice of letting fans leave during the game.
The so-called "pass-out" policy allowed hard-partying fans to drink heavily in the parking lot then return to the stadium, where they often ruined the fun for others. Now, people who leave aren't allowed back in.
"This was probably the best season I've ever worked," Roberts said.
The only surprise, he said, was that pre-game drinking led to busier first halves for police. Generally, Roberts said, second halves "were quieter and pleasant."
Roberts told the board police made 149 arrests at a single game between Louisiana State and Alabama last fall.