CLEMSON — Dan Radakovich knows as well as anyone how hot the topic of alcohol sales at college football stadiums is right now. After all, about 40 schools across the country permit the sale of alcohol during games — including The Citadel — and that can translate into big money. The University of Texas reportedly netted $1.3 million in alcohol sales alone for 2016.
But don't expect that trend to carry over to Clemson and its 80,000-plus fans in Memorial Stadium any time soon, the athletic director says. Clemson has never been on the forefront of the alcohol conversation and that is not changing in the foreseeable future. Radakovich, who met with the media Wednesday, has not wavered in that department.
"It hasn't been a huge topic here because we really don't look at that as something moving forward inside Memorial Stadium that is on our list of things to get done," Radakovich said. "There's a different atmosphere at our games."
Radakovich has been adamant about maintaining a family-friendly environment at Death Valley alongside Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, and the Tigers' national success has been more than enough to put bodies in seats without selling booze in the stadium. Clemson has already sold more season tickets for 2018 now than it did in 2017 and though the athletic department is still finalizing those numbers, Radakovich said the Tigers are nearly sold out of those season tickets.
But certainly there is money to be made if Clemson were to change its stance on the alcohol front and some of the Tigers' peer schools are proof of that. In the ACC, Boston College, Louisville, Miami, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Wake Forest all sell alcohol at football games, which adds noticeably to revenue stream. In Texas' case, the Houston Chronicle reported that Miller Lite was the second-most sold item at concession stands in 2015, only behind bottled water.
Certainly there is a market even if Radakovich is not interested.
"I think (the alcohol conversation) is as unique as a snowflake at each individual institution," Radakovich said.
As it stands now, there is no sale of any alcohol anywhere in Clemson's Memorial Stadium, but those who have seating in the premium, club level and suite areas of the stadium are allowed to bring their own alcohol to the stadium at designated times prior to game day.
Those game-goers, for example, could come to Clemson on a Friday afternoon before a home game and secure their supplies in lockers or suites so that it would be waiting for them that Saturday. But on game day, nobody is permitted to bring a drink through the stadium and it is not sold anywhere either, confirmed Clemson's assistant athletic director for communications Joe Galbraith.
That isn't to say fans don't have their own fun before kickoff. That much won't change.
"Our people in the parking lot have a good time. There's no question about that," Radakovich said. "But inside the stadium, I think it's a little different."