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Branstad Uneasy About Beer Sales at Kinnick Stadium

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DES MOINES, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is not keen on the idea of selling beer or wine stadium-wide at state college football games in Iowa.

"I think you have to be real careful about that," Branstad said in response to a question at his weekly news conference whether he thought the University of Iowa should follow the lead of the University of Minnesota, which has begun general sales of alcoholic beverages at University of Minnesota football games played at TCF Bank Stadium.

"They've had a lot of drinking problems anyway and obviously you know there's a lot of beer consumed in the parking lots before the games, so I don't know that you need to be selling it in the stadium," the governor said of the prospects of adding beer or wine to the Kinnick beverage offerings.

Branstad said he was aware that universities are looking for ways to raise money by signing contracts with shoe companies, soft drink purveyors and, in the case of the University of Iowa, Anheuser-Busch Inc., but he did not think the practice of selling alcohol should be widespread at state athletic venues.

A growing number of universities across the country are considering selling alcohol stadium-wide, not just in luxury suites and seating areas.

The University of Iowa sold $111,000 in alcohol at Kinnick Stadium during the 2010 football season, which put the UI second among the four Big Ten schools that sell booze in stadium suites for that year. Iowa State University sold $78,672 in beer and wine over seven home games in 2010 at Jack Trice Stadium.

"The current policy allowing the sale of beer and wine in the Kinnick Stadium suites has been in place and working well since 2006," Barta told The Gazette via a September 2011 email. "We don't have any plans to adjust the policy or expand sales to other parts of the stadium."

The UI approved plans to sell alcohol in Kinnick's 46 luxury boxes and Brechler Press Box in 2006. Suites for the president, athletics department and foundation do not allow alcohol.

All beer is poured in clear cups, and fans can buy only two drinks at a time. Suite owners are the only ones who can order beverages, and last call for alcohol comes at the end of the third quarter.

On a related topic Monday, Branstad declined to comment on the appropriateness of UI officials signing a four-year deal with Anheuser-Busch Inc. that allows the beer company to use Iowa's logo in marketing materials.

"I don't know the details of the contract that they have with Anheuser Busch. It doesn't surprise me. There is significant advertising benefit and obviously the universities are looking for places they can raise money. I think it needs to be done in a thoughtful and responsible way," he said.

During an appearance earlier this month on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" show, UI President Sally Mason said if she had it to do over again, she probably would not renew the UI's contract with Anheuser- Busch because of the backlash.

"I'm not sure it's worth the revenues we're getting for our athletic department," Mason said. "I probably would reconsider. More than likely not even do it."

The university has been fighting a party school image for years and has tried to push the message of "safe, responsible, legal," Mason said. That seemed to fit with Anheuser-Busch's pitch for drinking responsibly. But recently the UI's logo appeared on posters advertising drink specials at Iowa City bars a move not approved by the university.

"We didn't mean to send a mixed message," Mason said. The posters have been removed, but the damage is already done, she said.

On a separate matter, the Iowa Executive Council voted 4-0 Monday to grant a request from officials at the World Food Prize to allow the organization to serve wine in the Iowa Capitol Building during an Oct. 18 reception and dinner as part of its annual Laureate Award Ceremony. "This is something we've done a number of times before," Branstad said.

During the 2009 session, the state Legislature directed the Iowa Executive Council to consider requests authorizing the serving of alcoholic beverages in the state Capitol.

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