Mac Engel

Beer should flow at TCU and Vaqueros games

Beer. The 12 ounces of pure gold that gives us strength to beat up men twice our size and to ask out women who are 20,000 leagues out of our league, all the while retaining its stature as Satan’s water.

At best, America’s relationship with beer can mildly be described like a dysfunctional marriage that is equal parts shame and desire. We consume what we demonize yet advertise as it like it’s a need no different than water or air.

As a country we annually consume 81.6 liters of beer per person, and we have more breweries than any other nation in the world.

When it comes to selling beer at college ballgames, however, we have this line-in-the-sand ethos that is consistent with our Puritan roots. Only this line-in-the-sand is a gerrymandered design that only noted doodler Jackson Pollock would love. Or Tom Delay.

Selling beer at ballgames is not an encompassing solution, but the willingness to do so would help a local pro team in Fort Worth, as well as keeping a few butts in their seats at TCU football dates.

The Fort Worth Vaqueros minor league soccer team is in its fourth season, and will host its first playoff game Wednesday night at Martin Field by Texas Wesleyan.

Its first hope is to fare better than every other pro sports team that has called Fort Worth home. Cowtown’s success with professional sports teams has a track record almost as prosperous as a Kardashian marriage.

The Fort Worth Fire (hockey). The Fort Worth Brahmas (hockey). The Fort Worth Flyers (NBA D-League). The Fort Worth Cavalry (Arena Football). They were all here for a while until they met an untimely passing.

The Fort Worth Cats minor league baseball remains this city’s most successful venture into the treacherous world of pro sports. The team last played in 2014, and the once hospitable pristine and hospitable LaGrave Field currently crumbles like an abandoned warehouse overrun by weeds and looters.

The moral of this story: An investor is better to burn a giant bag of money than to start a Fort Worth pro sports team.

There is no way the Vaqueros can call Martin Field a home and expect to get anywhere. They desire to have a small stadium — around 2,500 — where they can play, and sell beer to a niche fan base. No one is expecting to turn into Jerry Jones here, but merely cover the bills for a small team.

The club reached out to TCU about using its posh soccer complex, but that request was met with a no because the franchise wants to sell beer.

The club reached out to the Fort Worth school district about using Farrington Field as a home. That is the perfect solution; the venerable venue is within walking distance of the West Seventh Street development that is loaded with the type of pedestrian traffic bars and restaurants crave around any sort of event.

The Texas UIL has no policy on this matter but merely defers to the state, which does in fact restrict the sale of alcohol on a public school property. That stance kills the Vaqueros playing in Farrington.

The Vaqueros are a pro team. If Farrington is dormant, and there is a chance to collect even the slightest of revenues from renting the place, why stand in the way of using a perfectly good facility for a team that needs one?

Let’s not fool ourselves: We’re talking about low-level minor league soccer. Selling some beer at a game is not going to generate a bonanza of cash at the nearby establishments nor will it ensure thousands of people flocking to the pitch to watch Vaqueros games.

The other teams that played in town — Fire, Cats, etc. — sold beer, too. It didn’t make much of a difference.

There simply is not that much risk.

There certainly is none at TCU football games, where the sale of beer is restricted ... save for the gerrymandered lines that permits the vending of beer and booze in the club level.

Despite the move into the Big 12, keeping butts in seats at TCU football games remains a death struggle for the athletic department. It’s that way at virtually all major college programs these days.

The game has to be as captivating as the first-run production of Hamilton or fans are gone to the paradise that is the parking lot. The lure of the tailgate is simply too great.

Other teams and schools have approved the sale of beer at home games, from North Texas to SMU to UTEP to Texas. UT made $1.8 million in alcohol sales at football games in 2015.

Alas, despite TCU’s conscious effort to distance itself from its Disciples of Christ church origins, approving beer sales on every level at Amon G. Carter Stadium is one implied verse too far. It’s a proposal that TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte has remained leery of asking his superiors.

No need. The college football and basketball experience has been professionalized in nearly every way and to deny the sale of a can of beer holds on to a 1950s charming sense of amateurism that has been abolished in nearly every other area.

Selling a can of beer at Amon G. Carter Stadium will no more fix TCU’s fan-retention issues than it will ensure a long and successful stay for the Vaqueros in Fort Worth.

It just won’t hurt.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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