MISSOULA — At college football games and tailgates, the beer is always flowing, but for the first time, the University of Montana was permitted to sell and serve alcohol at sporting events starting this school year.
Thanks to the passage of SB 247 during Montana's most recent legislative session, UM implemented a beer garden this football season that was attached to Washington-Grizzly Stadium. And it was met with early success.
According to public records, UM grossed $133,141 in total alcohol sales in Montana's six regular season home football games.
Due to a catering contract, the Badlander received $78,960 as part of their split. The Badlander's split was a larger portion because they supplied staffing as well as other products that required more spending for expenses. Plus, the Badlander holds the alcohol license.
UM athletics received $35,541, which includes the Grizzly Scholarship Association, and $18,639 went to UM dining. For athletics and dining, that money is all net revenue.
UM senior associate athletic director and chief financial officer Ryan Martin said this first year was a learning year for the university.
"We didn't find out that it was a go until I think August, so it was really late in the game," Martin said. "So I think what we wanted to do was use this year as kind of a trial run and really have no expectation. It's a new revenue stream so we weren't reliant on it, but how do we take that and be safe and responsible and do it right so that we increase the fan experience and then also do it in a safe way and do it right."
And it's not just football, as UM has had a beer garden at men's and women's basketball games in Dahlberg Arena this year as well.
As the first-year trials go forward, it's about finding ways to grow the beer garden to enhance fan experience while also staying safe and growing that revenue.
"Anytime you do something like this and you have a good experience and you create new revenue, I think it's probably natural progression to start talking about how do you do that in different ways and different areas, so I think those conversations will happen in the offseason just to see where this goes," Martin said. "I think it was well received but now that we do have a year under our belts and some time, how do we take that and continue to go with it."