Beer With Your Basketball?

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Athletics opened a student bar in War Memorial Gym where students of all ages will be able to gather to watch games, buy drinks if they’re of legal age and possibly eat snacks. WILLIAM WIN/FOGHORN

As part of a new push for increased student engagement, the Athletics Department has opened a bar in War Memorial Gym. Only beer and wine will be served.

The bar, which will only be open during games, is located adjacent to the main student section seating on the upper level of the War Memorial Gym at the Sobrato Center (the larger athletics complex on Golden Gate Ave). Student attendees, regardless of their age, can enter the bar area. However, students who wish to consume alcohol must be of legal drinking age.

Frank Allocco, executive senior associate athletic director for external relations, said, “[The Athletics Department] sees the to-be-completed Sobrato Center and the current War Memorial Gym as a gathering place for students.”

Students of legal drinking age can already buy alcoholic beverages during games at numerous concession stands located around the gym. The new bar area would provide game attendees a more centralized space to purchase drinks and hang out.

The new bar will feature a set of highboy tables and a large television that will show other sporting events, such as Golden State Warriors games. In addition, there will be a concession stand that will be themed for select games.

ASUSF Senate, the University’s student government, announced on their Facebook page on Nov. 7 that the name of the bar would be student-created, but would ultimately be approved by the Athletics Department. Current proposals include, “The HillTap,” “Fitz’s Spritz” and “Karl’s House.”

Allocco assures that there will be strict supervision, with Athletics staff carding and wristbanding all students to ensure that only fans of legal drinking age will be able to consume alcoholic beverages.

“The bar would be a safer option for students who wish to [consume alcohol] and also enjoy live sporting entertainment at the same time,” Allocco said.

“We believe that the bar will be a competitive option [compared to going into the city],” Tommy Heppler said, who is involved in ticket sales and operations.“We’re currently in talks with our vendors to have themed food. For example, for Tuesday night games, we are looking to have tacos served for ‘Taco Tuesday,’” Heppler said.

Allocco said that the idea of a bar was born out of discussion at one of numerous focus groups that he has hosted this year. “Students at the [focus] group wanted a bar, so [the Athletics Department] did some work and made it a reality,” Allocco said.

More focus groups are slated to take place in the upcoming weeks to brainstorm further student engagement with the athletics department.

“We originally wanted the bar area to be only open for students 21 and up, but students said that they wanted to bring their underclassmen friends too, so we worked around it and we’re giving the students what they want,” Heppler said.

Allocco said that Athletics is currently working with University officials to explore the possibility of allowing students to use their OneCard to purchase non-alcoholic items at the bar, such as snacks and concessions.

The bar is not the only new feature available to students in War Memorial. The first 50 students who arrive to games can sit in the new student section directly behind the Dons’ bench.

At the women’s and men’s basketball games on Nov. 9 and 10, respectively, the new bar debuted in a soft launch, during which students had the opportunity to purchase drinks, but there were no concessions available. Little to no students were in the bar area.

“The student bar is a work in progress and we will be fine tuning it [with concessions hopefully] for [the Nov. 16] Friday’s game against Arizona State,” Allocco said.

“The bar will be ever evolving based on the needs of students,” said Heppler. “We’ll be roaming around the area during games and ask students for their comments, and we’ll use their comments to change the bar for future events based on student needs and demands.”

Natalya Bomahi, freshman politics major, said, “I might use it sometimes and [the bar] is a good way to bring [off-campus students] back on campus and interact more.”

Elizabeth Hausler, senior business management major, said, “I’m honestly not sure they would go considering how seldom [they] are on campus,” referring to upperclassmen. “It’s an interesting idea for getting people to attend Dons games more and I hope it [works].”

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