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Under new Citadel plan, cadets can now buy beer at home football games

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Citadel cadets will be able to buy beer at home football games for the first time this season. File/Staff

Citadel cadets of legal drinking age will be able to purchase beer at home football games at Johnson Hagood Stadium this season.

A new plan for selling beer at the stadium, approved by the military school's Board of Visitors, will allow cadets ages 21 and over to buy up to three 12-ounce cans of beer during home games, starting with Saturday's 6 p.m. home opener against Chattanooga.

The Citadel sold beer at home games for the first time in 2017, and ended up losing money on the initiative. Cadets were not allowed to buy beer at the stadium, and sales were restricted to a "beer garden" on the east (visitors') side of the stadium.

In addition to allowing cadets to buy beer, new Citadel athletic director Mike Capaccio said beer will be sold at three concession stands and a beer trailer on the west (home) side of Johnson Hagood Stadium. Hawkers also will sell beer in the stands on both sides of the stadium.

Last year, The Citadel and concessions partner Sticky Fingers lost about $11,000 on beer sales at The Citadel. They grossed almost $22,000 on beer sales at five home games, but expenses — including $5,000 per game to rent a tent for the beer garden — amounted to almost $33,000.

"Last year, we started with a beer garden and it was pretty conservative the way we did it," Capaccio said. "This year, we wanted to break it out and be a little bit more thorough. And it was a total school decision on this, not just the athletic department."

The decision to allow cadets of legal drinking age to buy beer came from school administration, Capaccio said. About 600 cadets are 21 or over, estimated Capt. Geno Paluso, the school's commandant of cadets.

"The bottom line is, we're always asking these kids to have responsibilty," Capaccio said. "And then we're telling them they are 21 and can't drink. I think that was a piece of it, too."

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Plans call for 12-ounce cans of Bud Light, Michelob Ultra and Shock Top to be sold for $5 each. Local craft beer Palmetto IPA will be $6, as will cans of Spiked Seltzer. Plans eventually call for wine sales, although wine will not be available on Saturday, Capaccio said.

Three ID stations will be open 90 minutes before each game, and wrist bands with three tabs will be provided. One tab will be removed for each beverage purchased, limiting fans to three alcoholic beverages each. Beer hawkers will operate in areas away from the Corps of Cadets, and will visit the east (visitors) side with beer, soft drinks and snacks. Alcohol sales will stop at the end of the third quarter.

"I promise we'll make money this year," Capaccio said. "If we don't, I'll be very disappointed. The way we have this laid out, there's no way we won't make money. And I think once we get this off the ground and see the opportunities, it will be bigger than I first thought it would be."


• Citadel linebacker Noah Dawkins was named Southern Conference defensive player of the week after his performance in a 28-21 loss at Wofford. Dawkins intercepted two passes, returning one for a 47-yard touchdown, and added two tackles, one for a 9-yard loss.

• Saturday's game is Grandparents’ Day, where fans can buy two tickets to the game and get two pregame meals for $50. Each additional ticket and meal is $25.

• It's also Youth Football Day. Coaches or fans can purchase 10 general admission tickets for a youth program for $10 and get 20 tickets free.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC