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Fargodome approves beer sales at NDSU football games

Fargodome governing board unanimously approves the sale stadiumwide starting in September. It follows sales being allowed at all of the 10 other Missouri Valley Conference schools during games.

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North Dakota State fans celebrate a touchdown against East Tennessee during their NCAA FCS quarterfinal football playoff game on Dec. 11, 2021. The Fargodome approved beer sales at Bison football games for the 2022 season, part of a one-year trial run.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum
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FARGO — Bison football fans will be able to purchase beer during games this upcoming season.

The governing board of the Fargodome voted unanimously, although with a few reservations, on Tuesday, July 26, to allow beer sales at North Dakota State football games until the beginning of the fourth quarter on a one-year trial basis.

The issue has been discussed on and off for years, but a survey of season ticket holders revealed many fans wanted the move to be made. Officials have made the point, too, that beer sales are currently allowed at 10 other Missouri Valley Football Conference school games.

Although final signatures haven't been put on the lease change between the Fargodome and NDSU, Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik said the vote would allow the sales to begin, noting the Bison athletic department has given their approval.

Troy Goergen, board member and NDSU senior associate athletic director said a few final details still need to be worked out on the policy.

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Sales will be allowed stadium wide, although there were some initial concerns about consumption in the student section. Sobolik said, however, that the student government body pointed out that some of the students are 21 and should be allowed to drink.

Board member Nancy Jordheim, who had abstained from voting when it was considered a few years ago, voted with the rest of the board but had concerns about "appropriate sales" for those who may be intoxicated and for those underage.

Sobolik said the Fargodome, which has a long record of selling beer at concerts with few problems, is liable for the beer sales.

The new policy states "moderation and an attitude of civility is expected" with patrons adhering "to the fundamental values of respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsible behavior."

"I don't think we want to be the alcohol police," Jordheim said, citing concerns about drinking hours prior to the game in tailgating parties in the Fargodome parking lots.

The policy continues to allow alcohol consumption at tailgating gatherings.

Board member Blake Nelson said the sale of beer at concerts hasn't resulted in any major problems and there's a "good track record." He also noted sales in the stadiums at Ohio State and Oregon have resulted in reductions in any incidents by as much as 50%.

Sobolik said the policy could be tweaked after a few games or after the one-year trial period.

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"I guess we don't know what will happen until we try it," the longtime Dome manager said.

Jordheim said she still had concerns, but after considering abstaining again, she voted with the rest of the board.

Sobolik said it would be "added pressure" on his staff, but that it's ultimately up to the fans to self police themselves so sales can continue.

Hard seltzers will also be available, but not beverages containing hard liquor, Sobolik added.

Similar to the current arrangement for other concessions, NDSU will receive 15% of the gross receipts for sales of beer, too, until NDSU realizes $30,000 in revenue per year. After the $30,000 mark is reached, NDSU's share drops to 10% of those gross receipts.

The concession revenue for NDSU doesn't include suite catering, where alcohol consumption is already allowed during games.

In previous meetings, there was concern about the need for more concession space and bathrooms in the Dome as part of the beer sale move.

It was noted at Tuesday's meeting that an initial presentation is slated for late summer or early fall on the Fargdome's expansion and improvement plan. It was reported the narrative of the project is ready, including wider aisles, more bathrooms, and seating updates, but financial considerations needed to be updated before a report was made.

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NDSU started serving beer and wine at basketball games and wrestling events at the Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex in 2019. There have been no issues there, officials said.

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