NU Regents approve change to allow sale of alcohol at Husker basketball games and approve media rights deal

KEARNEY — The University of Nebraska Board of Trustees on Friday approved a plan to allow the sale of beer, wine and liquor at Husker men’s and women’s basketball games starting this season.

The board, which met at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, approved the change by a 7-0 vote. Omaha Regent Barb Weitz was absent from Friday’s meeting.

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The sale of alcohol at Husker events at Pinnacle Bank Arena will be reviewed by the NU Board of Directors

Under the terms of the pilot, which runs through the 2023-24 season, 90% of net alcohol sales revenue would go to the City of Lincoln, which operates Pinnacle Bank Arena through ASM Global, the company it hired. .

The city holds the liquor license for the arena, as well as a $10 million liquor liability insurance policy, and is responsible for selecting the concessions sold, including liquor.

Last week, Husker athletic director Trev Alberts said the UNL expects its 10% share of net revenue to generate about $100,000 this year.

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While opening taps for basketball games isn’t a major source of revenue, Alberts said athletic department views allow Husker fans to enjoy an alcoholic drink as a convenience.

The opening of liquor sales for future Husker events comes after the Regents in February lifted a 1999 university policy prohibiting the sale of beer, wine and other liquor at Husker events.

It also follows what university administrators say was a successful trial run in March at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships, where beer sales at Pinnacle Bank Arena went off without incident.

A person who spoke to the board during the public comment period told the Regents he thought allowing alcohol sales would make Husker games “much, much less family-friendly”.

“I’ve never seen anything positive come out of a bottle or a can of liquor,” said David Fulton of Pleasanton. “University administration, staff, and especially security, will all face many negative consequences if you approve this.”

Regents, however, said they were confident Husker fans could handle the new gear.

Lincoln Regent Tim Clare, who represents NU at the West Haymarket Joint Public Agency which governs the arena, said the deal is “a test to see how it works”.

“With opportunity comes responsibility and accountability, not just to ourselves but to other customers who are in the game,” Clare said. “From there, if it works out, maybe we’ll continue beyond the two years.”

For now, the beer will only flow at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Memorial Stadium, Haymarket Park or Devaney Sports Center policies do not change.

Regents Rob Schafer of Beatrice and Jim Pillen of Columbus both noted that alcohol is already sold at the University of Nebraska during Omaha games and no problems have been reported.

“Ultimately, it allows us to treat adults like adults,” Schafer said.

At its Monday meeting, Lincoln City Council will hold a hearing on a draft ordinance amending its agreement with UNL to allow beer sales.

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Media Rights Agreement

The Regents also approved a 15-year, $301 million media rights deal between the Nebraska Athletic Department and PlayFly Sports for Husker sports broadcast rights.

The deal, which guarantees the athletic department $273.6 million, includes a “search” clause in the ninth year.

UNL will receive annual payments of $18.2 million and, upon signing the contract, will receive a signing bonus of $7.5 million to be paid in instalments.

The contract also provides the athletic department with $6 million for capital investments and places $2.25 million in a name, image and likeness fund for brand scholarships for Husker athletes, or for pay for their appearances on NU-related shows.

During a briefing with reporters last week, Alberts said he thought the deal, which has been negotiated for much of this year, was probably “one of the most lucrative media rights deals ever.” ” from the country.

“We will benefit from this through our fanbase,” Alberts said.

Before moving its media operations in-house for 15 months, Nebraska had a contract with Learfield/IMG that paid the university $12 million a year.

After Alberts took charge of Husker Athletics last year, the university entered talks with three separate companies about the possibility of re-contracting broadcast rights and appeared ready to strike a $215 million deal. over 12 years with JMI Sports.

That deal, which would have paid $16.7 million a year and included $25 million in add-ons, ultimately fell through, leading NU to strike a deal with PlayFly Sports.

Pillen said he thinks moving the Huskers’ media operations in-house in 2019 “makes a lot of sense.”

“I personally struggle with not having it in-house,” Pillen said, but added that the opportunity to “engage more fully with Nebraskanians around the world” has helped him get closer to the idea.

Omaha Regent Jack Stark also said he was concerned about the length of the contract, but ultimately supported the article with the rest of the board.

In other cases:

* The Regents have approved several facilities projects on the UNK campus. The board set a guaranteed maximum price of $25 million for a Calvin T. Ryan Library renovation and increased the budget for a Warner Hall HVAC renovation from $5.1 million to $6.5 million. dollars. Both projects will be funded by a combination of public and university funds.

* President Ted Carter also announced that NU will extend its waiver of the $45 undergraduate application fee until October 31. The fee waiver, which applies to residents of Nebraska, was originally scheduled to expire on Friday.

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On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS

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