SEATTLE - John Edman is a Husky fan, who has a certain pre-game tradition.
"We normally just drink beer in the parking lot, when we tailgate," said Edman, while drinking a beer at the Northlake Tavern near the UW campus. He was also excited to hear there will be an additional choice at Husky Stadium this fall.
The UW announced there will be an "Off-Leash Deck" in the northwest corner of Husky Stadium. Fans can buy $25 standing room only tickets, in the corner, in a spot that will allow them to purchase beer or wine. Capacity will be limited to 500 people. The announcement is part of a trend nationwide, to allow some form of alcohol inside campus stadiums. For years, the idea was considered taboo.
"We had behavioral problems and we had to do something structurally to change that," says Oliver Luck, the athletic director at West Virginia University.
Luck says he noticed, on football game days, the university had a high rate of alcohol-related incidents inside the stadium. He says pre-game binge drinking, and a liberal in/out policy were to blame. He petitioned the WVU Board of Governors to allow beer sales, inside the stadium. There were "300 public comments, and two-thirds were negative," said Luck, who was able convince the board to make a change.
"There were others in the Big East conference, at the time," said Luck, "Louisville was selling Bourbon."
He says the change has been fruitful. West Virginia's net game day beer revenue has equaled $750,000 a year and incidents involving police inside the stadium have dropped 30%.
University of Washington Police Commander Steve Rittereiser says the department was consulted about the alcohol change.
"I think it's manageable" and a "nice part of Husky Stadium," said Rittereiser. He noted that his department is cautiously optimistic about it.
If UW sells out the "Off-Leash" tickets for its seven-game home schedule, and each person was to buy four beers, the proceeds would be close to $200,000.
UW had previously just sold beer and wine in suites and Club Husky. WSU also sells alcohol in Martin Stadium, in suites, and just outside the gates on Rogers Field. Only fans over the age of 21 are allowed to purchase alcohol.
Luck says he applauds UW AD Scott Woodward for making the move and dismisses any suggestion that alcohol sales inside a stadium are a slippery slope.
"With all due respect to folks who say it's a slippery slope, there is already a lot of alcohol, both beer, and hard liquor, wine whatever, at college football games," he said. "Anyone who doesn't acknowledge that is probably not being straight forward."