Game Day or Drunk Day? Arrests Skyrocket When the Home Team’s Home.

By Adam K. Raymond 04/14/11

Which policy is safer--selling beer inside the stadium, or not selling beer inside the stadium?

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Dude gets his game on.
Photo via thinkstockphotos

On a few Saturdays each fall, when West Virginia University plays home football games, the school's Milan Puskar Stadium swells with 60,000 fans who are, in all likelihood, drunk. That's no surprise for a college that's consistently ranked among the country's most raucous party schools, but it's impressive considering this: West Virginia University doesn't sell alcohol at football games. Instead of getting drunk off of high-priced light beer like fans of other sports teams around the country, WVU fans take part in the time-honored tradition of chugging before the game--and disappearing to the parking lot to chug some more during halftime.

All of that might soon change. WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck recently asked the school's Board of Governors to allow beer sales at home games and to do away with the policy that allows fans to re-enter the stadium after walking out. “We believe we can improve fan behavior with the controlled sale of beer inside the stadium,” says Luck. “With responsible serving practices and proper vendor training coupled with the elimination of stadium re-entry, we can control the consumption of alcohol.” If WVU does decide to start slinging $8 cups of Bud Light at football games, it should probably funnel some of that money into extra security. According to a study by the University of Florida released last year, the average "university town with a successful NCAA Division I football program" sees 12.3 arrests on non-game Saturdays and 70.3 arrests when the teams are playing. In Morgantown, West Virginia, where people have more beards than brains, that number's sure to be higher.

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Adam K. Raymond covers politics and sports for New York Magazine. Visit Adam's website and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.