Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.
And the forest we’re talking about here is millions of dollars in revenue and profit in the next decade of Ole Miss sports.
And the trees are the bureaucracies of university operation, the backlash of donors, and the overall public perception of a school that needs some good PR in all fairness. Ole Miss has reportedly taken every step necessary to be able to sell beer and wine at sporting events as soon as the September 7th kickoff* against Arkansas in Oxford, but a final decision is still looming and delayed.
*After watching the first half of this game, it’s possible the powers that be decide to make alcohol sales go live at halftime.
To say the Cup is antsy is a massive understatement. Even Southern Miss, Hardy Street High School, has found a way to make this happen to try and stay competitive in getting fans to its stadiums in the future. It’s mind-numbing a decision like this can take so long given our past stance on it.
Mississippi State doesn’t want to do it, and certainly they can choose to do whatever they wish. I don’t think they had any desire to sell booze prior to the Southeastern Conference prohibiting it or after the passage of booze sales this spring.
From what we have read and heard, Ole Miss and former athletic director Ross Bjork wanted this in previous years and took steps to be ready for when this freedom was finally handed down. However, there’s been no indication that we will have a cold beer in hand when the home opener kicks in a few short weeks.
People can argue about the overall culture of the games due to infusing alcohol sales, if they will be family friendly, and if there will be more alcohol related events. There are studies showing the incidents decrease, but there will always be skeptics. One way to find out how things will play out is to actually make it happen and work to do the best to provide a great game day atmosphere for all fans.
The University of Texas has reported $3 million in annual sales from alcohol at sporting events. Ohio State University has reported $1.3 million in annual sales. Other SEC schools are lining up to get their pockets lined with the cash from this opportunity and give themselves a fighting chance for eyeballs and butts in seats for a true home field advantage.
Ole Miss is without a permanent chancellor and without a permanent athletic director, so it’s understandable there is no one at the top of the administrative food chain to drive this conversation and decision. But it still doesn’t make it any less acceptable - the market will bear positive results on this financially, and if there are fans who choose to stay home, they’ll be replaced by more who go to sports bars and stay on the famous Oxford square or in the Grove instead of going to the game.
They’re not all staying on the square or the Grove simply because of the product on the field, but because of the overall experience of what you can get inside the stadium - food, beverage, customer service all factors into it.
This is such an easy win for the athletic department if they can just get over any potential negative feedback they’ll receive. Open your eyes and get it done, Ole Miss shouldn’t be left behind on yet another issue because of political in-fighting.
Tap the keg already, pledge. It’s time.