ST. PAUL, Minn. -- This fall's eagerly awaited return of Minnesota football to campus after 27 years will feature nostalgia, pageantry and fresh air. But no beer.
University President Robert Bruininks is expected to recommend Friday that regents ban alcohol from the new TCF Bank Stadium following a dispute with state lawmakers.
"We know people will drink before they get to our games. We're not naive," Bruininks told The Associated Press on Thursday. "But we do think this is the best, most responsible way to manage our game days and to really make this a high-quality experience for our fans."
Lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty had set conditions for a stadium liquor license, saying the school could sell alcohol stadium-wide or not at all. They also blocked the university from serving free alcohol to fans in premium seating areas, such as luxury boxes and club rooms.
University officials opposed the conditions, saying stadium-wide sales would be out-of-step with campus stadiums in the Big 10 and send the wrong message to students about drinking. Lawmakers argued that limiting booze to people holding expensive tickets smacked of elitism.
The old campus stadium was torn down after the school shifted games to downtown Minneapolis in 1982. The novelty of the climate-controlled Metrodome wore off fast. Average attendance steadily slipped and fans began clamoring for a new home. Three years ago, state lawmakers authorized the $288 million, horseshoe shaped stadium with room for 50,000 fans.
The decision to go dry will be a change from collegiate games in the Dome, where fans could buy beer no matter where they sat.
By the time the Gophers host their first game Sept. 12, Bruininks said the university will have settled on a plan for keeping intoxicated people from entering the stadium and removing unruly fans who do get in.
Bruininks doesn't expect the Board of Regents to formally act on his alcohol-policy recommendation until June 24. He is also extending the no-alcohol policy to the hockey team's Mariucci Arena and the basketball team's Williams Arena. While alcohol isn't broadly sold in either, it has been available in suite and reception areas.