Drinking with the Bulls

New York State approves beer garden in UB Stadium and full-service bar in Alumni Arena

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UB began selling alcohol at basketball games last week and offered solely Bud Light at concession stands and standalone kiosks.

Within a few months, there could be a lot more drinking options for UB sports fans.

Under the name UBFSA Services LLC, the Faculty Student Association applied for liquor licenses at a beer garden on the second floor of UB Stadium and a full-service bar on the second floor of Alumni Arena, according to state records. FSA is a nonprofit auxiliary service corporation doing business at the university as Campus Dining & Shops. The New York State Liquor Authory approved FSA’s licenses for full-service bars in the President’s Suite and Gicewicz Club in UB Stadium, as well, according to state records.

The New York State Liquor Authority approved the licenses on Nov. 20, with all licenses being active until Oct. 31, 2020. 

Athletic Director Mark Alnutt pursued the current alcohol pilot program following a “listening tour” with alumni and fans this past summer. The program was met with a positive response, according to Athletics spokesperson Daniel Enser.

Enser said the program is in a trial period that Athletics will review at the end of next year’s football season. Athletics redirected all future plan questioning to Campus Dining & Shops, FSA's practicing business. Athletics hopes the program will become a permanent part of the “legal” fan and alumni experiences at games.

The Spectrum asked FSA and Athletics officials about the beer garden and full-service bars, but officials did not respond in time for publication.

The news comes as a “game-day blessing from the heavens above” for UB Naked Guy, Kyle Yagielski.

“[Buffalo] fans are the best in their respective leagues,” Yagielski said. “They don’t get [rowdy] the second they step in the arenas. The preparation begins slamming back some cold brewskis in the Orchard Park lots or on the Metro downtown. A little liquid courage to get fans riled up. Then, when the party moves into the stadium, fans can keep the brews coming and keep cheering their little hearts out. I guarantee that games will be 100 percent [more lit] now.”

Yagelski, a senior media study major, said the alcohol sales will help fans sit through entire football games, instead of leaving after halftime. Yagelski, who doubles as an unofficial school mascot and a common part of UB football and basketball games, said he thinks the sales will help UB Athletics draw more fans.

“The reality is that UB is in a tailgate town,” Yagielski said. “UB football and basketball have some serious competition with the Buffalo pro-teams in terms of gameday atmosphere.” 

Marcus Unger, a junior business administration major, said he feels the inclusion of alcohol at games will be a good addition to Athletics' games.

“People like to drink beer at sports games,” Unger said. “I think it will help produce revenue and boost attendance. It does nothing for me because I can’t drink, but if I could I’d be happy it was there.”

Unger said he didn’t understand how people would call the sale of alcohol at games a negative, as it has become common at other Division I schools across the country. Unger said he has been to multiple football games and plans to go to his first basketball game soon. 

“I don’t see how it does anything to get more people to go to games,” said senior health and human services major Chevaneice Lawrence. “I didn’t really like the games before and this doesn’t help to get me to go now.”

Lawrence said she does not drink and that the addition of alcohol benefits no one. She said it will likely not help draw larger crowds for games and does not look at the addition as a positive. 

“What’s the chance someone will want to go to a game just because you can also get alcohol there,” Lawrence asked.

Colin Curry, a freshman political science major, said the recent addition will not make him go to games, but would help with attendance. Curry said he goes to music events across campus and does not participate in UB sports games.

“I can’t drink yet so I don’t really feel like it affects me,” Curry said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing, but I’m still not looking to go to a game anytime soon.”

The basketball season will be an early test for the program, with football no longer having a home game left this year. The first and only UB basketball game featuring alcohol sales drew a crowd of 4,589, according to attendance numbers. That is 1,016 more fans than men's basketball had at the previous home game.

UB’s next home basketball game will be on Saturday when women’s basketball takes on the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils at 1 p.m.

Benjamin Blanchet contributed reporting to this story.

Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at: thomas.zafonte@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @Thomas_Spectrum