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MORGANTOWN -- Beer sales at Mountaineer football games could generate $500,000 to $1.2 million a season depending on the weather, attendance and team performance, but West Virginia University Athletic Director Oliver Luck said Thursday that money isn't his main reason for proposing them.
Rather, Luck said his goal is to gain control over the drinking that already goes on at Mountaineer Field and create a more civil atmosphere that encourages people to bring their children and grandchildren so that the tradition lives on in future generations.
"We cannot afford to not have those kids attend our games,'' Luck said.
The WVU Board of Governors has posted the proposed revisions to its policy online and is taking public comment about the plan to let longtime stadium concessionaire Sodexo sell beer. School spokesman John Bolt said 140 people had weighed in as of Thursday afternoon, but their comments haven't been analyzed yet.
Even if the board rejects beer sales, Luck said he'll likely end the long-standing policy of letting fans leave and re-enter the stadium during daytime games. Few college stadiums around the country -- and none in the Big East -- allow re-entry, he said.
For decades, fans have been using WVU's so-called "pass-out'' policy to engage in binge drinking, then return to the stadium drunk and rowdy. When Luck read through piles of old complaint letters last fall, he found most were related to smoking and declining civility in the stands.
Luck, who's also considering moving the designated smoking areas outside the crowded concourse, said he's now trying to find a balance between creating a family friendly environment and encouraging a loud, enthusiastic crowd that gives the team a home-field advantage.
"You want it to be a friendly, upbeat and civil crowd,'' he said, but also a crowd with children.
"We're not growing organically, population-wise, so we can't afford to lose a boatload of kids who all of a sudden turn 25 and they've never been to a Mountaineer game because they're not students here,'' he said. "If you get to 25, 26 and you haven't had a steady diet of Mountaineer football, you may be able to live without it. And we want to keep this place filled up as best we can.''