SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Plans continue to be worked on, but three athletic directors at South Dakota public universities have said they plan to find ways to incorporate general admission alcohol sales at future events. 

The Board of Regents passed a new expanded alcohol sales policy during its June 22-23 meetings, which gives each school the opportunity to decide whether or not to offer alcohol sales at sporting and fine art events. 

Where schools currently stand on new alcohol policy

  • Black Hills State: Football games, possibly select volleyball and women’s soccer games this fall. 
  • Dakota State: At football games after the new stadium is built to meet separate concession stand rules. 
  • Northern State: Reviewing campus guidelines. 
  • School of Mines: Exploring options for events at O’Harra Stadium and King Center. 
  • South Dakota State: Making plans for football games at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium and where the market dictates alcohol sales. 
  • University of South Dakota: New policy being worked on for after the Fourth of July holiday.   

South Dakota State Athletic Director Justin Sell said SDSU plans to offer general admission alcohol at events. He said the school has experience with selling general admission alcohol from big concerts held at the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. 

“We certainly kind of have a really good plan in place,” Sell said. “We know how to manage it and we know how to make it a safe environment.” 

He said alcohol sales will vary from event to event. 

“The market kind of dictates that and what kinds of events that you have,” Sell said. “For our performing arts center on campus, it’s great for them to have an opportunity to provide that to help enhance some of those Broadway-type shows or things that come in where that’s an expectation.”

Sell said SDSU will focus on making sure alcohol sales start in a correct way. 

“We want to make sure that we come out of the gates handling it in a way that does enhance the fan experience,” said Sell, adding there’s no implications from any of the conferences SDSU athletics competes in. Sell said many universities have moved to selling alcohol in the last decade. 

Like the BOR, Sell praised student involvement in getting the new alcohol policy in place. He highlighted how the policy gives SDSU more control to enhance stadium experiences. 

“People look at alcohol sales strictly just how much (money) can you make on a beer,” Sell said. “For us, it’s more about creating the environment. It’s not so much about that as it is how it enhances the number of season tickets we can sell, which then helps enhance the Jackrabbit Club, which gets more people in the building so our corporate sponsorships are worth more.” 

Sell admitted he’s been studying the issue for 10 years and noted many fans have shared input in favor of general admission alcohol sales or not. 

“I’m really pleased that it passed,” Sell said. “We’ve been talking about it for years. We have a lot of fans that want other options within the stadium. We accommodate those too.” 

Black Hill State 

In Spearfish on the campus of Black Hills State University, Athletic Director Padraic McMeel said alcohol sales started at some Yellow Jacket sporting events in select areas last year. He said BHSU plans to offer alcohol at a variety of different sporting events starting with the fall football season and select volleyball and women’s soccer matches.   

“We are meeting in the next couple of weeks here with our stakeholders to develop a policy and procedures of which will be based on what the South Dakota Board of Regents approved,” McMeel said. 

McMeel said conference and NCAA approval for alcohol sales will be needed at post-season games or tournaments, but noted BHSU received approval for select area alcohol sales at similar events last year. 

Starting his second year as the BHSU AD, McMeel said he thanks students and everyone involved for getting the policy passed.  

“I think they made the decision that they thought would be best for all the institutions,” McMeel said. “It’s now our responsibility that we go ahead and implement the policy the right way and monitor the right way.” 

McMeel echoed Sell’s comments about enhancing the gameday experience for fans and mentioned additional revenue it could bring for athletic departments. He said once BHSU started offering alcohol in select areas, people would often ask what was the process to have alcohol at sporting events. 

“We really feel as though we’re going to see an uptick in ticket sales and an uptick in those that would like to partake in the beverages of choice,” McMeel said. “We’re looking forward to being able to provide different options for all of our fans.” 

Dakota State  

In Madison, Dakota State University is the lone public university competing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics instead of the NCAA. DSU Athletic Director Jeff Dittman said the NAIA won’t allow alcohol on the field of play, but they leave schools and conferences to use good judgement. 

Dittman said DSU will look to offer general admission alcohol sales but only after its new sports complex is complete. Dittman said in new facilities, DSU will be able to offer separate concession stands. 

“In our current fieldhouse, we do not have the ability to separate the alcohol from the general concession stand,” Dittman said. “We don’t have the seating necessary to be able to split it. So we won’t make those changes in our volleyball and our basketball facilities for a while.” 

Dittman said students have discussed the topic for many years. He said DSU started allowing alcohol at tailgate areas eight years ago and hasn’t experienced any problems from allowing that. 

“We haven’t seen poor behavior in the stands. People still yell at the officials but they yell the same way as prior to when we had alcohol,” Dittman said. “We haven’t seen any negative effects as a result of this one. We’re ready to move forward into this next step.”

Dittman said he remembers the University of Virginia becoming one of the first football stadiums to allow alcohol sales inside the stadium. He said Virginia’s rationale was there would be less problems in the stands because people wouldn’t binge drink as much. 

“There was better behavior by everyone, because they were just enjoying it, instead of just being crazy with it,” Dittman said. “We’ve watched arguments on both sides of it for a long time now.” 

USD, NSU, School of Mines all working on plans 

With the new policy, all schools are in charge of what they want to do when it comes to alcohol sales. There is no requirement to provide it and universities have to meet rules of separate concession areas and providing the same seating with alcohol-free zones. 

The University of South Dakota said campus leaders will hold meetings on how to move forward with the new policy after the Fourth of July holiday. 

Northern State University said a review of campus guidelines has started in regards to the Board of Regents policy change. 

School of Mines said the expanded alcohol sales will allow alcohol sales at its football stadium O’Harra Stadium and the King Center.  

“This brings opportunities to enhance our game day atmosphere and allows us opportunities in marketing and sponsorship that we haven’t previously had,” School of Mines spokesman Josh Van Valkenburg-Gernert said in an emailed statement. “We’re excited to see the positive effect that this decision has on the South Dakota Mines athletic department in the short and long-term.”