Archive for Sunday, March 24, 1996

CU CHANCELLOR TAKES STAND ON BEER SALES

March 24, 1996

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— What Roderic Park has done is virtually the equivalent of prohibiting afternoon tea in Great Britain.

Park is the chancellor of Colorado University and he has unilaterally banned beer sales for football games at Folsom Field for the next two seasons.

Not so fast, said CU's Board of Regents who want Park to think it over before they approve or reject his decision on Monday.

Are you kidding? said CU's student leaders after they heard of Park's action. They want Park to wait until a student vote on the issue next month.

Colorado, as you may know, is the only Big 12 Conference school that allows alcohol sales and, social issues aside, it simply isn't kosher to engage in a practice its conference brethren oppose -- in some cases, like Kansas, stringently.

A handful of current Big Eight schools go so far as to permit advertising for beer and beer-related products in their athletic venues while banning sales. Kansas does neither.

Case in point: A few years ago, Budweiser approached KU officials about placing four signs -- two for Bud and two for its non-alcohol brew O'Doul's -- on the scoreboards at Memorial Stadium and in Allen Fieldhouse. In addition, Budweiser promised to pay $10,000 to a KU student alcohol abuse program.

Kansas officials said thanks but no thanks ... and it wasn't because there wasn't one more cranny left in Allen Fieldhouse to post another sign.

Back to Colorado. Chancellor Park wants to turn off the spigot because, he said, of "... a history of sometimes uncontrolled brawling in which alcohol has been a key factor." Park said Colorado has averaged more than two violent disturbances each game, many of which have resulted in arrests and injuries.

Anyone who understands the economics of beer knows the monumental profits involved.

Colorado's athletic department stands to lose $250,000 a year by Park pulling the plug. To soften the blow, the chancellor says he'll make up the shortfall with discretionary funds from his office. After that, the athletic department is on its own.

"No other Big 12 Conference university uses beer as a revenue source," Park told the Rocky Mountain News, "and they all seem to survive."

Colorado athletic director Bill Marolt must have cringed when he read that remark. Conversely, the other 11 conference ADs can't be crying over spilled suds.

It could have been argued that when Colorado was a member of the Big Eight it desperately needed beer-generated revenue because its travel expenses were annually the highest in the league.

In the Big 12, however, expanded geography will bring the other 11 travel costs closer to Colorado's.

It's easy to applaud Park's stance on beer sales at football games, but why didn't he go all the way and ban suds at Colorado basketball games, too?

No problems there, the chancellor said ... only at Folsom Field.

Nevertheless, Park has left himself open to double-standard allegations. He wants to banish beer at a place (Folsom Field) named after a long-ago CU football coach, but at the same time he wants to retain beer sales at a venue (Coors Events Center) named after the omnipresent brewery in nearly Golden.

Then again, perhaps half a loaf is better than no loaf at all.

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