by: Riley Howard
Many fans may have noticed that the beer garden was missing from the north end of Herb Klindt Field last Saturday in Rocky Mountain College’s first home football game against Carroll College. This stems from a decision to exclude the sale of alcohol from the game day festivities. President Bob Wilmouth said that the decision was influenced by an emphasis on the health and safety of students.
“Our students deserve a healthy learning environment. Alcohol isn’t always healthy or safe, and we didn’t want to risk the opportunity where we could be healthy or safe. We think that’s very, very important.”
Wilmouth also attributes the decision to creating a positive experience for fans on game day.
“We didn’t want any possibility of alcohol sales to compromise the fan experience at Rocky. It hasn’t. The family atmosphere has been there. But we want to make sure that fans have a good time and we want families and the community to feel comfortable when they come to the stadium and not have to worry about anything.”
Athletic Director Bruce Parker said that the decision was consistent with NAIA policies.
“It was decided that we didn’t want to have an emphasis on alcohol. The NAIA discourages the sale of alcohol within a stadium.”
According to Wilmouth, alcohol is currently only sold at a small percentage of colleges across the nation.
“In the last report that I saw thirty-four colleges across the country sell beer. That number is going up, a lot of colleges are going the other way because it’s revenue driven, it’s more money. They’re trying to figure out any way to get more money and anytime you lead with the money you lose.”
Not everyone completely agreed with the decision. Gary Schild, a Rocky fan with a son on the football team, said that he was disappointed that the beer garden was removed. Schild added, “I thought it was a nice way to mix and mingle with other Rocky folks before the game. I do think that having beer and a beer garden available increases the local draw as well. A lot of folks don’t want to take the time to set up a tailgate.”
Senior student Tommy Little also felt the beer garden added to the game day experience. Little said, “The beer garden brought a unique atmosphere to Rocky football games.”
Although the sale of alcohol is prohibited, Parker says that alcohol is still allowed in the tailgate area. Parker said, “We still have a great tailgate. There will be adult beverages available out in the parking lot in our tailgate area. We encourage everyone to come and have fun pregame and to hang around after the game and have fun in our tailgate area.”