Ever since TCF Bank Stadium opened in 2009, the Minnesota Golden Gophers have been trying to break with their Metrodome past. This weekend, though, one of the old vestiges of the dome makes its first appearance at the new stadium: Beer sales.
The university's Board of Regents approved sales of beer and wine during the summer, and those changes go into effect as the Gophers open their home season against the New Hampshire Wildcats on Saturday. Alcoholic beverages will only be available in restricted areas, a compromise reached when the Minnesota Legislature refused to authorize sales only in luxury suites.
It has been estimated that in-game beer sales could net the university $1.5 million over the course of the season. That may be a conservative appraisal, however, depending on the team's performance. Should the Gophers fall flat again in 2012, the school might net upwards of $3 million as long-suffering fans seek comfort in the freshly created beer garden.
But I'm not sure it's going to come to that because this is the Gophers' year. In fact, it's always the Gophers' year until they prove otherwise, which they have an annoying habit of doing.
The Gophers, who won their season opener against the UNLV Rebels in overtime, will kick off against New Hampshire at 11 a.m. CT. Television coverage will be available on the Big Ten Network.