In just a few weeks, the University of South Dakota Coyotes will face off against their border rivals, the North Dakota State University Bison in a nearly sold out game. The two teams are meeting on neutral ground at the Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.
Neutral ground means new rules in the stadium for both teams. The Sioux Falls City Council approved a one-day liquor license for the game on October 20th. Both USD and NDSU do not allow alcohol sales at their stadiums.
NDSU's Athletic Department said it recently considered selling alcohol during football games; however, they decided against it in an effort to prevent underage and binge drinking among its students.
USD Athletic Director David Sayler said moving the game to Howard Wood Stadium is an effort to get more USD alumni involved in the game and draw larger crowds.
"We viewed it as really no different than the Summit League basketball tournament being hosted by the Sports Authority at the arena and being run in similar fashion which includes the sale of beer," Sayler said.
The Sioux Falls Sports Authority said those beer sales will also mean more revenue for the event. The event revenue will be split between the Sports Authority and USD. Mike Sullivan with the Sports Authority said the Sioux Falls School Board will also see some financial gains because the game will be played at Howard Wood.
"I think it will certainly help revenue, there's no doubt about that. So at the end of the day, if there's some benefit there then that's great. But its not enough in my mind to really move the needle either way. I would have been happy playing the game there without it just the same," Sayler said.
Along with sharing profits, USD and the Sports Authority are also sharing the responsibility of making sure their students are safe.
The Sports Authority will step up security for the event and cut off beer sales at the end of the third quarter.
"All the safety precautions and things that have to be taken before hand have been taken and will be taken at the game so we feel its a very safe environment and will be for everyone at the game," Mike Sullivan said.
The University of Minnesota took similar steps when it began selling alcohol to the public early this year. Its Athletic Department said increased security and limited access points have prevented any problems.
USD is taking safety measure one step further. Sayler said USD is providing free bus rides to students and fans from Vermillion and Yankton to ensure everyone makes it home safely.
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