News Flask! News On Booze:
Cold Beer and Team Cheer
As the dog days of summer come to a close and the crisp fall air descends, the far off echo of fight songs becomes clear. Banners are hung, jerseys are donned, and bars, restaurants, and stadiums brace for the swell of super fans. We shake off the midyear slump and exchange enthusiastic “Go Team” greetings at the grocery store. The meaning of life comes back to us as we clear our weekend schedules, and get ready for some football! Okay, okay. Hyperbole aside, the fall is a wonderful time of year. The weather cools, the holidays grow closer, and football brings people together with America’s other great unifier – beer.
Fintech’s 2017 InfoSource™ data shows the year’s third largest jump in beer sales in week 35. While this jump could be associated with our last hurrah of summer on Labor Day, it’s also intrinsically linked to kickoff weekend. The data also maintains a higher rate of sale through the second half, so how exactly is the sport affecting the market?
Every year, more college football facilities are adding beer to the list of available in-stadium products. Historically, alcohol sales had been limited only to teams who played in NFL stadiums , like my alma mater, The University of South Florida, whose home field is Raymond James Stadium. Ten years ago, only a handful of college programs fell into this category, but now, 52 out of 129 NCAA Division 1 FBS football programs are opening the taps. In the last year alone, Fintech has added several NCAA FBS stadiums for electronic alcohol payments, including LSU’s Tiger Stadium.
Some stadiums are hesitant to join the party, especially considering that nearly half of the fans in attendance are under-aged students, but money talks. Fans have long expressed their desire to have their cake and eat it too, and numbers prove that if they can’t imbibe at the game, they’ll watch from somewhere they can. While the revenue gained by selling on game day isn’t astronomical, it’s still enough to keep fans coming back, and some universities are even using the profits to give back to the university police departments who are enforcing safety at the events. Still, it’s fair to state that as the taps flow, sponsorship opportunities for the NCAA will arise, leading to much bigger earnings.
While beer has always been a focal point of professional sports, professional stadiums are taking the next steps by expanding their offerings to include local craft beer, cider, and even hard seltzers. To stay ahead of the trends for the 2018 season,
Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, is offering fans craft beer flights. The flights will include three seven-ounce selections of local brews, and will cost about $15. Even bars and restaurants who participate in Sunday specials are offering bucket prices on craft beer bottles and increasing the number of local or seasonal beers available on tap.
As a life-long fan of the Cleveland Browns, the latest Bud Light “Victory Fridge” promotion is something that warms my heart while simultaneously making me laugh until I cry. This year, the beer maker is installing 10 beer coolers in various locations throughout downtown Cleveland, including FirstEnergy Stadium itself, which will unlock as the clock runs out on the Browns first victory since December 24, 2016 (or as my family calls it, the Christmas Miracle). In a hilarious, yet likely needed statement, Bud Light has ensured that they’ll refresh the beer once a month to guarantee freshness as the season goes on. But setting my Hard Knocks colored glasses aside, it’s easy to see the impact that beer is having on this particular market. It’s pulling people together, uniting them in their faithfulness to a team. (After two grueling weeks of hard fought football games, I’m happy to report that we did it! The W came home after beating the Jets, and the Bud Light fridges were opened in victory.)
Whether congratulatory or consolatory, fans across the nation are partaking in and celebrating beer’s relationship to our great pastime. So put on your jersey, pop a top, and settle in for the next few months – if you’re a Browns fan like me, it may be a long ride. What’s your go-to football beer?