University of Minnesota to start selling cocktails at sports venues

Dehydrated fans can expect new alcoholic beverages to quench their thirst when the Gophers play their first game of the season at Huntington Bank Stadium on Aug. 29 — and won’t even have to leave their seat for a drink in years to come.

Canned and batch cocktails will be available starting this fall at concession stands at the football stadium, as well as Williams Arena, Maturi Pavilion and 3M Arena in Mariucci, in the first phase of a plan unanimously approved by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents on Wednesday. There is already beer, wine and malt beverages.

The 2025-26 athletics seasons will bring full-service bars to clubrooms and limited bottle service to suites, according to the plan. The final phase of the plan will allow in-seat “hawking” of alcohol in the 2026-27 football stadium, except in student sections.

Athletics director Mark Coyle and Jon Steadland, senior adviser to the university president, presented the plan to regents in June as a response to fan requests and a way to keep the Gophers’ arenas competitive with Big Ten and Twin Cities professional sports facilities. The plan has been approved by the U.S. Liquor Licensing Oversight Committee and the Department of Public Safety, Steadland said Wednesday.

Coyle and Steadland agreed to provide a status report after the implementation of the first phase of the plan so the board can assess potential adjustments. Regent Kodi Verhalen, who requested the report, added that the plan had been “put together so thoughtfully in a step-by-step approach.”

Regents approved the plan after reviewing financial projections, which Regent James Farnsworth requested at the board’s June meeting, and left open the possibility of requesting more status reports.

The U did not immediately provide current annual alcohol sales, but projections indicated potential increased sales at football, hockey and men’s basketball games. For example, the United States expects the new alcohol policy to generate an additional $37,500 per soccer game upon full implementation in 2026-27.

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