- Associated Press - Sunday, September 7, 2014

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico State University fans can now sit back at an Aggie sports event with a cold beer or cup of wine.

Concessions at the Pan American Center began including alcoholic beverages, beginning with last week’s volleyball tournament, the Las Cruces Sun News reported (https://bit.ly/1vXHIRn ). University officials recently announced that a liquor license was granted for the arena following years of debate. Alcohol has been sold almost exclusively at concerts and shows at the on-campus venue since 2002.

Alcohol has not been available at Aggie games except for a test sale at NMSU men’s basketball games during the 2006-07 season, officials said.

Scott Breckner, NMSU’s director of special events, said alcohol sales are not about increasing revenue and have not been advertised with university promotions related to the volleyball tournament.

“We’re trying to improve the fan experience,” he said.

The alcoholic menu will include domestic beers such as Coors, Budweiser and Michelob as well as featured microbrews from around the state, according to food-service provider Sodexo. The drinks will be served in 12- or 16-ounce cups and cost between $7.50 and $8.50. Some of the red and white wines sold will also come from local wineries.

Shelly Duran, a district manager for Sodexo, said the company will oversee the alcohol sales with state-certified servers.

Alcohol was only sold at a specialty kiosk labeled “New Mexico Market” during the volleyball tournament. During basketball season, sales will be at the nine permanent concession stands.

The school estimates alcohol sales could net $50,000. According to the contract, Sodexo must give 40 percent of that to NMSU.

Critics say the sales could mean more intoxicated fans at games. Rich Ferrary, spokesman for the Mesilla Valley DWI Resource Center, said he is concerned some students or adults will share beer or wine with underage friends despite a law enforcement presence.

NMSU Police Chief Stephen Lopez said police plan to monitor lines for anyone passing liquor to minors. Lopez believes allowing alcohol purchases at the arena will also lead to a drop in people sneaking booze inside.

“That’s one of the benefits,” he said. “People no longer need to sneak things in. … It should be a good time for everybody.”

At another state school, University of New Mexico, alcohol is only for sale to guests in club-level seats or luxury suites.


Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News, https://www.lcsun-news.com

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