FARGO — North Dakota State will allow alcohol in some seating sections at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex, one of several changes meant to enhance the game-day experience for men's and women's basketball games.
NDSU will also offer rail seating around the upper concourse that will include countertop space, new food and beverage concession options that includes third-party vendors, more concession stands and additional beer and wine serving locations.
It is also revamping season-ticket packages, in part so those who hold season tickets to both men's and women's games can have the same seats for both programs.
Men's basketball has 1,800 season tickets under 400 account holders and women's basketball has 680 season tickets under 200 accounts, according to NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen.
The athletic department had an open house Monday evening to explain the changes to season-ticket holders. It will hold three more open house periods Tuesday from 7-9 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5-8 p.m.
"A lot of the season ticket changes were driven by some ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) adjustments we had to make in the arena. We lost some seats and were backfilling those, so we thought it was the right time to kind of start over," Larsen said.
Allowing alcohol in some seating sections will get the most attention among the changes. NDSU began allowing Buffalo Wild Wings to sell beer and wine at the SHAC in 2019. Sales were limited to a club suite on the east side of the upper concourse and consumption was limited to the suite and designated areas adjacent to it.
Only fans 21 and older can purchase alcohol, of course. A valid wristband is needed and a limit of two drinks may be purchased at one time.
Alcohol can now be carried and consumed in sections 101-117 along the west, north, northeast and east sides of the arena. Alcohol will not be allowed in sections 118-124 and sections 201-208. Sections 120-124 are the student sections.
Alcohol sales will no longer be limited to the club suite and there will be additional sales points on the upper and lower concourses.
NDSU is far from alone in offering alcohol sales at on-campus sporting events and, in fact, has allowed beer and wine sales at other on-campus events — like F-M Symphony concerts at Reineke Fine Arts Center — for years. Regional peers like the University of North Dakota, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and the University of Northern Iowa also allow alcohol sales at sporting events.
Although the athletic department will generate some revenue from beer and wine sales, expanding sales and consumption areas is more about what college administrators call "enhancing the fan experience." College sporting events, even in almighty football, have seen declining attendance in recent years and athletic departments are offering amenities to draw more people to games.
"We're trying to make coming to basketball games an event," Larsen said.
There will also be third-party concession options after years of having NDSU in-house offerings. Expanded concessions will include, but not be limited to, Taco Shop, Fargo Fillies, Mac Daddy's, Dippin' Dots and Perfectly Nuts.
The rail seats will total 61 barstool seats with chairbacks along the upper concourse. They are available to be purchased as season tickets. NDSU is touting them as offering countertop space and easy access to concession stands and alcohol sales.
The Bison men open their home season with an exhibition game against Minot State on Nov. 1 while the women's first home game is Nov. 17 against Northern Iowa.