Call the whaaaaaaaaaambulance–the drunks need a ride to the drunk tank.

mojitoLuxury seats at brand-new multimillion dollar college football stadiums aren’t selling out!  (Via Inside Higher Ed.)  But that’s not the only misplaced priority among the Gopher faithful–here’s an interesting tidbit about the University of Minnesota’s new boondoggle:

The poor economy, however, may not be the only reason for the slow sales of premium seats at Minnesota’s new stadium. One culprit, another athletic official suggests, may be the lack of alcohol at the stadium.

“We had a plan in place to sell alcohol in these premium areas but not in the general areas,” said Garry Bowman, a spokesman for Minnesota athletics. “However, the governor said we either had to sell it everywhere or not sell it at all. So, our regents decided not to sell alcohol, given that 20 percent of our crowds are students, most of which are underage. Still, this reversal did have an effect. Some people who were on the fence about getting a suite considered this a tipping point and decided, ‘Maybe we don’t need that suite after all.’ You can’t look at the selling numbers and say it was all the economy.”

Two season ticket buyers who had signed contracts pulled out because of the change in alcohol policy, Crumb said, adding that a third buyer who was close to signing a contract also cited the policy change for not closing the deal.

Awesome!  The rich folk just can’t get drunk enough in their comfy seats.  Super, super, super-duper classy with a cherry and an orange slice skewered by a tiny plastic sword on top!  Because I’m sure that priorities like $40,500 luxury suites have nothing whatsoever to do with the cuts in instructional budgets, layoffs, furloughs, cuts to library budgets, and crumbling classrooms plaguing most public instistutions of higher education these days.  Yes, that’s right:  I wrote, “institutions of higher education,” not “free farm clubs for the NFL.”

Do you think we could get donors to support the actual instruction of students if the College of Liberal Arts at Baa Ram U. featured not just “smart classrooms,” but “drunk classrooms,” with wet bars?  Is that all it would take to get some support around here?  Hell, I’ll even mix the drinks for them, if that’s all the idle, sodden rich are looking for.  Each faculty member could have a special cocktail they mix up that relates to their subject matter:  colonial American historians might specialize in rum punch; Caribbean and Latin Americanists might work in Mojitos or Pisco Sours; Eastern European historians and Russianists would of course feature vodka drinks and slivovitz; French and Italian historians would pour wine, natch, and British historians could offer a wide range of pub tipples, from ales and stouts to scotch.

Leave your recipes for sure-fire wallet-openers in the comments below.

0 thoughts on “Call the whaaaaaaaaaambulance–the drunks need a ride to the drunk tank.

  1. For 18th C Britain, how about straight gin? Or, for the classy types, port? No need to mix. But rum punch was also quite popular in the 18th c.

    Mind you, I am sympathetic to those who want to warm themselves while watching football in Minnesota 🙂


  2. Gin–of course. Sorry about the oversight, Susan! It’s also the perfect base for drinks prepared by midcentury U.S. historians (“Mad Men”-style drinks), as well as for historians of the American ruling class, who can’t get through the summer without oceans of G&Ts.

    As for staying warm in Minneapolis: isn’t that what the luxury suites do for you? I would be shocked if these $40,500 suites were unheated!


  3. If you’re scoring, that’s the stadium that was still being built right across the (shared) parking lot when we went to the Big Dinner at the Berks Conference in Mpls. the summer before this last one. I’m glad they weren’t enforcing this crazy new policy on that warm evening. That green mojito would be great to wash down the crackers and peanut butter lunch I’m about to have.

    Historiann, we just got a bulletin on our intranet here that Colorado is under a big new blanket of snow. Any truth to this story? I don’t know why it got into our bulletin, which is mostly about critical things like newly discovered Key Assessment Factors, Moodle workshop slots, and things like that. But it did.


  4. I am disturbed by the clear class issues here as I don’t think that the “student” population is the total explanation. It almost seems that the working and middle class can’t be trusted with liquor in the stadium according to the Athletics Department? But the wealthy have clearly earned the right to it? And I like how they blame the governor for not seeing the clear “logic” in excluding liquor from the general public.

    Queer Studies courses might not serve the best cocktails, but you can be that the house music will be better.


  5. Class indeed. I’ll have whatever George Steinbrenner is drinking, if it’s priced at under $2,500. Don’t those old Gophers remember how they used to sneak a flask into the stadium in a hip pocket back during the Korean War? Wouldn’t they pay to re-enact those capers at TFC Bank Stadium? More fun than beating Iowa!


  6. Uh, I may be wrong here, but isn’t the point of selling alcohol at the stadium to make money? I don’t think its done as a public service. The margin on an $8 10 ounce cup of (insert brand name of insipid light beer here)is pretty darn hefty, and goes a long way to covering the costs of a 50k plus stadium that sells seats 5-6 times a year. Pretty short sighted on the part of the Gopher administration.


  7. Hey–I know of at least one early Americanist who would be glad to bend hir class (at least a little bit) to the donor who made it possible. Apparently, one American genre fiction writer (in the J.K. Rowling category of books sold), decided to give a donation to the public university located in the author’s hometown in New England; the money was used to establish at least one tenure line in history (three total, I believe).

    So when my friend got the job, s/he admitted s/he’d be happy to work horror/mystery/sci fi into hir classes on the American Revolution, if only to recognize the philanthropy of this successful author. Come to think of it, maybe the donor just really wanted someone to teach about the Salem witchcraft trials.

    And–it snowed in Colorado? It’s funny–it’s going to be over 93 here all week in my neck of the woods in norcal. This makes me think I should check the calendar more closely before I accept invitations to go to conferences.


  8. Don’t worry, John–it will be sunny and warm again soon! (Plus the expression, “it’s always snowin’ in Boulder” refers to something entirely different…)

    Fratguy: what??? People sell alcohol to make money? You mean that cup of pi$$water is grossly overpriced?


  9. Historiann–I hate to accuse you of being disingenuous, but surely those luxury boxes sell most often to (and are marketed towards) corporate interests, rather than to wealthy individuals or families? If “class” is in the mix, here, it’s lodged in the way that corporate interests are intersecting with a public institution of education. What were the founders thinking when they separated church and state, but allowed public education and commercial enterprises to interbreed?


  10. Tom–I don’t understand your point. I’m against any and all spending on free farm clubs for the NFL–it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s rich individuals who purchase the box seats, or whether it’s big corporations who purchased the suites so they could invite rich individuals to sit in the seats. (In my “drunk classroom” scenario, I imagined that rich individuals would be likelier to partake than corporate sponsors. Just guessing!)

    I think every and each dollar requested by every department at universities (inlcuding the AD) should have to show how it’s related to furthering education. If there’s no direct link, then *poof*! This would be greatly to the benefit of academic departments and libraries, less to the benefit of the AD and other sinkholes for money at public universities.


  11. Perhaps I should add, having re-read my post: universities who sell out to entertainment values shouldn’t be surprised when their “customers” decide that the entertainment isn’t of the kind or quality they want. (That is: when you decide that your educational mission includes selling “luxury suites” for 6 football games per year, you can’t really b!tch too much if people abandon you if they can’t feed their addiction conveniently enough.)

    My question: haven’t these people ever heard of tailgating? I bet those Lexus SUVs and Hummers have awesome tailgate potential!


  12. John S: I’d love to be the RiverHorse Professor of Early American Studies at their new six-vat campus in Lambertville, NJ. I bet between their hazardous (r) hops and my hopping curveball lectures, we could make nearby Princeton decide to retreat to Newark. No Horsin’ Around.


  13. Indyanna: Well, since I don’t drink, I should note that if I were to pick corporate sponsorship from my that neck of the woods, I suppose I’d want the Atco (atco..atco..atco!) Speedway in South Jersey to bankroll me. (I still miss those commercials from growing up!)

    To respond to Tom’s and Historiann’s points: this whole issue hits one of my big beefs with college athletics, and gets at one of the big issues in this blog: assessment. The major justification for big-time college sports (esp. football) is that it’s a money-maker. Football underwrites other sports, and has a spillover effect on the rest of the university. Of course, every study done shows that the vast majority of football programs lose money–I think 90%. (Small time sports, like, alas, cross country, have never been money-makers.) So some people make the nebulous financial justification: big time sports programs encourage alums to give money, or local corporations (see: luxury boxes.)

    Funny thing is, I’ve never seen anyone do a really detailed assessment of this. Which means that we get evaluated within an inch of our lives to justify tenure or basically any raises, while millions of dollars are spent to underwrite athletics without a similarly rigorous analysis.

    The double standard is galling, and really gets at why I ultimately don’t like college sports. It sucks away money that could be going to instruction. But we ask fewer questions about athletic budgets than we do about instruction budgets.

    (For the record: I actually feel the same way about other projects that don’t impact student instruction directly At my campus and my wife’s campus, the administrations have built “performing arts centers” where over 95% performances are people who aren’t part of the university community. Does this ultimately benefit the students and faculty? Maybe. But explain to me if it’s worth the cost when we’re shedding adjuncts, raising student fees, and cutting financial aid.)


  14. John S. makes a great point about the scrutiny of the instructional budget versus the scrutiny (or lack thereof) of the athletic budget. My guess is that among our students at Baa Ram U., even the most ardent football and men’s b-ball fans spend a heck of a lot less time at games in the course of their college career than they do in class. (And, my guess is that there are a hell of a lot of students who never see a game.) But–all of our students have to earn 120 credits to earn a B.A. or B.S. in somethingorother–that’s 40 3-credit classes, or 3 hours a week times 15 weeks, which comes out to 1,800 hours total spent in classrooms–and that’s not even counting library or study time.

    It seems to me that a university should be more focused on improving those 1,800 hours than on some damn games, which are entirely optional and not a part of any degree program of which I am aware. (And yes, ADM: in this respect I am a dedicated foe of the U.S. of A.! Maybe Andrew Sullivan was right, and I’m a part of a Fifth Column–not to say Fifth Monarchy Men and Women–bent on destroying America!)


  15. Some of the athletic conferences browbeat their member universities into not selling alcohol at their stadiums.

    As far as what to serve, my day-to-day would–of course–be motherfucking Jameson. On special occasions, I will make perfect Manhattans with Sazerac rye.


  16. Dr. Crazy’s classes/bar would include offerings based on the reading assignments. In one class I’m teaching, the syllabus/menu would look as follows:

    champagne, michelob light, vodka and tonic, champagne, chardonnay, cosmopolitans, ouzo, and budweiser (from a pony-keg).

    Students would also be encouraged to smoke cigarettes in class in the beer-drinking weeks for extra credit.


  17. Michael: yes, but then there’s the “hidden” cost. As I glance at a UM press release from 2007, the new stadium that opened two weeks ago cost $288 million to build–around $40 mill over the initial budget. The press release assured everyone that the increased cost wouldn’t come out of the U’s academic mission: “Instead, the U will fund it using a combination of financing tools and increased athletics revenue that will result from the new stadium.”

    But here’s the question: aren’t the luxury suites that aren’t selling out one of the anticipated revenue streams? And who’s left holding the bag when the financial tools don’t work so good anymore (no one anticipated that financial chicanery could lose money in a crash!) or the increased revenue doesn’t come?

    So….$5 mill profit….against a $288 mill stadium. How do we figure out if it was all worth it, this year, five years from now, 15 years from now? And who does the cost accounting to see if this was a terrible boondoggle?


  18. I don’t know if it will aid the drink menu here, but TCF Stadium is being referred to as “The Bank”–that’s in contrast to “The Barn” which is the nickname for the Gopher men’s and women’s basketball arena across the way. I think it’s also interesting to note that U of M students are now assessed a $25/year special fee to help pay for the new stadium.


  19. John S. I’m remembering not the Atco Dragway, but rather I think a place called Raceway Park, (“Sunday, Sunday, SUNday”), which you could get to on Route 22, passing a strange battleship-shaped shopping center “AT the Flagship…” You from down in Jersey somewhere?

    But this is spinning off-thread, into the hay bales… What I want to know is, did the Gophers take home the hardware that year, to wit, Floyd of Rosedale?


  20. Historiann, Comrade PhysioProf has hit the source of the problem. When the Gophers played at the Metrodome, they were playing at a facility owned by a public entity not affiliated with the University and also the host for two professional sports teams. Consequently, beer was freely sold throughout the stadium, unlike any of the other stadiums in the Big Ten, (or any others I’m familiar with.) When they moved to a university-owned stadium, they felt they had to follow the procedures in place at other university sports venues, meaning no beer sales, and requiring drinkers to drink before the game and/or sneak it in. As you noted, they wanted to sell alcohol to the high-rollers, as is done at other places like Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, but the governor, who never wanted the stadium to be built in the first place, said no. The rest of the stadium, interestingly, has sold out, at least for this season, even without the beer.


  21. Michael–I still disapprove on principal, but the fact is that there’s way more money spent in profligate fashion on NCAA sports than in any other line in a university’s budget, bar none, and none of it is related to the educational mission! So, what John S. said. If football franchises are so profitable, they should just sever themselves from unis and go it alone.

    LMC and ER Doc–thanks for the local news insight. ER Doc, I don’t know how close you are to “the Bank,” but when I lived in a small SW Ohio college town, the ER docs in that town told me that parents’ weekend was the biggest drunken ER weekend of the whole year, and that it was all hands on deck that weekend. Was it because students were partying too hard? Not at all. It was that their parents were drinking so heavily at frat and other student parties that they required ER admissions and medical attention. (Yeah, these folks who were pre-emptively diapered and then given IV fluids and left to wake up in…giant wet diapers. Awesome!)

    That was the other point of my post, although longtime readers know that I never like to miss an opportunity to ding big-time college sports. The perception is that alcohol is a problem with the student population, when frequently it’s their parents and their elders who have the bigger, and much more serious, problems. I must live in total la-la land, but the idea that alcohol availability was a dealbreaker for some potential marks for “the Bank” is shocking, and very telling. (Cf. Mr. and Mrs. Richistan in the big, soaking wet adult diapers over there.)

    Oh, and I think you meant to reference Fratguy’s comments about alcohol profits, not Comerade PhysioProf’s recipes for Sazerac rye. (Good taste, that CPP, though.)


  22. Historiann, Any gendered breakdown on the “pre-emptively diapered” adults whisked by EMTs from the student parties into the ERs? The image boggles the mind, of the ‘rents and their offspring lit by strobe lights and kegs, but my mind shuts down at the thought that this could be anything other than an entirely “dads ‘n grads” phenomenon. Say it ain’t so…


  23. One other insidious aspects of the whole college sports phenomenon besides the money is the focus of the university on the team. While they all argue that playing up their sports teams “make” the uni money (although this has never been demonstrated statistically to me), few take into account the way these athletic teams skew the priorities and mission of those running the university. The priority shifts from being about education to being a corporate-sponsored brand/ form of entertainment. . . One tiny but telling example: at my former uni (a known football school, but not Big Ten – that is to say, precisely the kind of place where football is probably draining) the university president embarked on a “branding” campaign for the school. The school’s new “brand” became the new symbol for the athletic teams. Thus the new symbol was placed not only on all the uniforms, but replaced the older university symbol (it’s seal) on all buildings, signs, university letterhead and business cards. The faculty were embarrassed that suddenly their professional looking cards no longer looked professional or academic. But we weren’t allowed to keep the old symbol, because we ALL had to follow the school’s new brand – ie the athletic symbol. I know what’s on a card is a petty issue, but it demonstrates how the obsession with branding always goes hand-in-hand with athletics rather than academics, and affects the entire priority system of the university.


  24. My understanding is that only a very few universities actually make money on their big-time sports programs, those like USC, Penn State, Notre Dame, Texas, Florida, Bama, and so forth. I think the time has come to accept that fact that universities are run like corporations. While corporations are run for the financial benefit of stockholders, universities are run for the financial benefit of high-end adminstrators and superstar faculty and–even more importantly–for the *social* benefit of trustees and high-roller donors (and their relatives).


Let me have it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s