TCU joins other Big 12 schools and starts selling beer at baseball games
It was the perfect night for a beer.
There was initially some rain in the forecast for the cross-town showdown between TCU and Dallas Baptist. But aside from the presence of some light winds, fans at Lupton Stadium enjoyed perfect baseball — and drinking — conditions.
Before the first pitch, temperatures hovered in the mid-80s, which would make a light lager the perfect refreshment. As the evening wore on and the temperatures started to dip, some fans graduated to the rich taste of a craft IPA.
"It's very odd and we're doing it for the novelty more than anything else" said John Andrus, a TCU fan.
"Most of the people I've talked to are split 50-50. We (TCU) are trying to control crowd rowdiness and keeping it under control balanced with having a cold beer at a game on a hot day."
For $7, fans 21 years and older could purchase 16 ounces of classic beers brands including Bud Light, Miller Light, Michelob Ultra and Coors Light. For the same price, some of the 12-ounce craft beer options included Rahr & Sons and Deep Ellum.
Vendors even offered an alcoholic selection for the non-beer drinkers in the form of cider from the Bishop Cider Company.
Don't worry, the beer koozies covered in TCU lettering were here before and are likely to remain, even if the beer doesn't.
At AT&T Stadium, the starting price for a beer during a Cowboys game is $9.
All beers came were refrigerated in plastic bottles or cans and served into discreet, plastic purple cups. All beer sales stopped after the conclusion of the seventh inning.
In the past, fans were allowed to come in-and-out of sporting venues on campus. But under this alcohol policy, fans who leave the stadium have to buy another ticket to get back in and watch.
For some, the booze probably livened up a game that was a bit lacking in excitement in the early going. Not a single run found its way onto the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth inning, when TCU's Coby Boulware knocked a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield.
The Horned Frogs wound up adding five more runs in the later innings for a 7-0 victory over Dallas Baptist.
This marked the first of a seven-game trial run to see how the fans and the policies would work. At the time of first pitch (6:35 p.m.), the 4,500 capacity wasn't anywhere close to full. However, as the night wore on, more and more spectators of all ages made their way to their seats.
By the end of the night, attendance hit 4,183, as a healthy number of people stuck around to see the home team's offense find a spark in the sixth and seventh innings.
Unfortunately, there weren't any of the classic mobile vendors shouting 'Get your beer here!"
Sodexo, the giant food service company that prepares food on campus, will distribute the beer at the same concession stands selling soda, nachos and hot dogs.
In terms of the bigger picture, TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati and his staff have been working to make this all possible for the past several months.
Getting a few cold ones into the stadium has been floated around the athletic department and fans for years with an eye toward football games at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
"We thought this was a pretty low risk, but it's our first time going through it and I’d like to walk before we run and make sure we do it responsibly," said Donati, who was named AD in December after Chris Del Conte left for the same job at the University of Texas.
In preparation for Tuesday night, university officials reportedly studied other schools that serve beer at their baseball stadiums, including Big 12 members such as Texas, West Virginia and Kansas State.
Eventually, the board of trustees and Chancellor Victor Boschini accepted and signed off on the decision.
At Lupton Stadium, fans didn't seem to mind staying in the stadium. If that policy does find its way to Amon G. Carter Stadium come September though, the conversation might be a little bit different.
The first regular-season football game is over four months away, so there is still plenty of time to debate concerns over the in-and-out policy and crowd control.
For now, fans were content to enjoy the first-time experience of enjoying a cold beer while watching their favorite college baseball team.
As for the coaches and players, well, they recognize the positives too. When Lamar visits Lupton Stadium for a three-game set this weekend and Big 12 foe West Virginia arrives in Fort Worth for a critical three-game set a week later, the alcohol might actually give the Horned Frogs an even greater home-field advantage.
"I am all for a little bit of liquid energy if that's what it takes," said TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle. "But our fans normally do a great job and maybe that will add another five or ten percent."