Athletic director Scott Barnes announced several new enhancements to the fan experience for the 2016 Pitt football season on Monday, including bringing alcohol sales to the public at Heinz Field.
Along with the expanded alcohol sales, Barnes unveiled six other fan initiatives: single-game parking passes, an improved Pitt Gameday Live App, upgrades to both the Panthers Pregame Tailgate Party and the “Panther Pitt” student section, Pitt script merchandise at all Heinz Field stores and the introduction of the Panthers Fans Appreciation Program.
“We’ve had some outstanding collaborations with our inaugural Panthers Fans Experience Committee and also gathered important information through our Pitt football fan survey,” Barnes said in a press release. “The initiatives we are announcing today are the result of the feedback gathered from those two important groups.”
Barnes has been associated with the idea of selling alcohol to the general public at Pitt football games since he told a local reporter he was open to the idea shortly after his hire in April 2015.
Now, Pitt will officially join the 34 Division I college football programs that served beer to the general public last season. Previously, alcohol was only sold to fans in the club and suite levels for Pitt games at Heinz Field.
Out of those 34 schools, only 11 of them played at off-campus stadiums like Pitt, and only seven were members of the Big Five conferences.
But more and more schools are opening up to the idea of selling booze during games, believing that allowing fans to purchase alcohol inside the stadium will help reduce binge drinking and other alcohol-related incidents outside.
Alcohol sales can also help generate revenue for the program. At West Virginia University, alcohol has been sold to the general public at home football games since 2011. The school averages $500,000-600,000 a year in alcohol sales alone according to Associate Athletic Director Michael Fragale.