FARGO — Bison football fans will be able to purchase beer during games this upcoming season.
The Fargodome Board of Directors voted unanimously, albeit with some reservations, on Tuesday, July 26, to allow beer sales at North Dakota State football games through the start of the fourth quarter on a one-year trial basis.
The issue has been discussed on and off for years, but a survey of season ticket holders revealed that many fans want the move to go ahead. Officials also noted that beer sales are currently permitted at 10 other Missouri Valley Football Conference school games.
Although final signatures have not been placed on the Fargodome-NDSU lease change, Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik said the vote would allow sales to begin, noting that the athletic department of Bison gave his approval.
NDSU board member and senior associate athletic director Troy Goergen said a few details of the final have yet to be worked out on policy.
Sales will be allowed throughout the stadium, although there have been some initial concerns about consumption in the student section. Sobolik said, however, the student government body pointed out that some of the students are 21 and should be allowed to drink.
Board member Nancy Jordheim, who abstained from voting in the review a few years ago, voted with the rest of the board but worried about ‘proper sales’ for people intoxicated and minors.
Sobolik said the Fargodome, which has long sold beer at concerts with few issues, is responsible for beer sales.
The new policy states that “moderation and an attitude of civility are expected” with customers adhering “to the core values of respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsible behavior“.
“I don’t think we wanted to be the booze police,” Jordheim said, citing concerns about drinking hours before the game at tailgating parties in the Fargodome parking lots.
The policy continues to allow the consumption of alcohol at tailgating rallies.
Board member Blake Nelson said the sale of beer at concerts hadn’t caused any major problems and there was “a good track record”. He also noted that sales at stadiums in Ohio and Oregon State have resulted in a reduction in incidents of up to 50%.
Sobolik said the policy could be changed after a few games or after the one-year trial period.
“I guess we don’t know what will happen until we try,” said the longtime Dome manager.
Jordheim said she still had concerns, but after considering abstaining again, she voted with the rest of the board.
Sobolik said it would be “additional pressure” on his staff, but ultimately it’s up to the fans to police themselves so sales can continue.
Hard seltzer will also be available, but not hard liquor, Sobolik added.
Similar to the current arrangement for other franchises, NDSU will also receive 15% of gross receipts for beer sales, until NDSU achieves $30,000 in revenue per year. Once the $30,000 mark is reached, NDSU’s share drops to 10% of that gross revenue.
Concession revenue for NDSU does not include in-suite catering, where alcohol consumption is already permitted during games.
In previous meetings, there had been concerns about the need for more concession space and bathrooms in the Dome as part of the beer sale move.
It was noted at Tuesday’s meeting that a first presentation is scheduled for late summer or early fall on the Fargdome expansion and improvement plan. It was reported that the project narrative was ready, including wider aisles, more bathrooms and seating updates, but financial considerations needed to be updated before a report was written.
The NDSU began serving beer and wine at basketball games and wrestling events at the Scheels Center at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex in 2019. There were no issues there, said officials.