Going to a concert some places might involve standing in line for a frosty adult beverage, but not at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center.
But that might be changing soon.
Last week, university officials announced they are undertaking a “pilot project.” A concert in April may be the test-drive for a policy change. An application to the state Liquor Control Board for a “public venue license” may pave the way to granting permission for alcohol at more events.
According to Penn State spokesman Reidar Jensen, the move is being explored because the university-owned venue has to compete for acts.
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“We have been disadvantaged,” he said. “We have lost shows to other venues that do sell alcohol.”
Within an easy drive, fans could take in a concert at Hersheypark Stadium or Star Pavilion in Hershey or Consol Energy Center or Pepsi Roadhouse in the Pittsburgh area, all of which allow liquor sales.
Jensen would not name specific acts that have declined to come to Penn State because of the liquor policy. However, some artists will include liquor as part of the rider, the list of backstage requirements for a concert. Other tours may be sponsored by alcohol companies.
“This is a structured experiment that we have decided to undertake because there is clearly an expectation at certain types of entertainment events that food and alcohol should be served,” David Gray, senior vice president for finance and business, said in a statement. “We consider this a way to provide an opportunity for the safe, responsible enjoyment of adult beverages to of-age patrons at select events.”
According to Penn State, more than 88 percent of concert venues on university campuses do serve alcohol.
The change would only apply to individually approved non-university events. Jensen said alcohol would not be served at Nittany Lion basketball games or other sporting events or at other official Penn State functions.
But that selective use is nothing new. Beer has long been offered at State College Spikes games at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, but not when the Nittany Lions baseball team plays.
Jensen said it is not a prelude to potential liquor sales at Beaver Stadium. In fact, although the basketball team does play at the Jordan Center, the venue itself is actually not part of Intercollegiate Athletics, unlike the home of Penn State football.
If approved, sales would only include beer and wine, under specific conditions, with weigh-in from university police, the Risk Management Office and other Penn State leaders.
“Allowing the Bryce Jordan Center to provide sales and services at appropriate events will enable the university to host more events, draw more people to the region, and be a stronger community asset,” Gray said. “Alcohol is not the focus of the event and there are a number of limitations that will be implemented to help keep patrons and the community safe.”
Jensen said alcohol would also translate to a higher police presence inside and outside the venue.
“We just want to enhance the overall entertainment experience for adult patrons,” he said.