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Sale of booze at Husker events in Pinnacle Bank Arena to be considered by NU board

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Big Ten wrestling championships, 3.6

An Iowa Hawkeyes fan waits for his change after buying two beers during the Big Ten Wrestling Championships in March at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Months after the taps were turned on at Pinnacle Bank Arena for the Big Ten Wrestling Championships, the University of Nebraska could make beer sales a permanent part of Husker events at the venue.

Next week, the NU Board of Regents will consider carving out an exemption from the prohibition on beer sales at Husker events, opening the door for fans to buy a beer as they take in men's and women's basketball games this season.

The decision would not extend to Memorial Stadium, the Devaney Sports Center or Haymarket Park.

As sentiment about fans consuming alcohol at college events has shifted, regents took action in February to rescind the 1999 policy prohibiting alcohol sales at Husker events.

The 7-0 vote paved the way for beer to be sold at the March wrestling tournament, which was a Big Ten Conference event hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

NU President Ted Carter said waiving the policy was also a way for the university to be more consistent in how it approached the sale of alcohol across its campuses.

Alcohol is sold at University of Nebraska at Omaha athletic contests, as well as other places across the university system, but not at Husker events.

Administrators and regents were careful to note that selling alcohol during a single event at Pinnacle Bank Arena would not result in a wholesale change in university policy, and stressed more study would be done.

Specifically, Lincoln Regent Tim Clare noted at the time, the university and city of Lincoln would need to work out who would be responsible for maintaining the liquor license, what the revenue split would be and at which venues alcohol would be available.

It appears much of that work has been done in anticipation of the start of Husker men's and women's basketball seasons. The teams begin practice next week.

Carter said previously any future expansion of beer sales at Husker events would first need approval from regents.

The decision to sell beer at Husker games at the arena, which would be in effect for two years, will also need to pass muster at the Lincoln City Council, which shares operations of the arena, as well as revenue from Husker events, with the university.

Regent Jim Pillen of Columbus, speaking to an Omaha radio station Wednesday afternoon, said talks about whether or not to sell alcohol at Husker events has "been a conversation for a number of years."

Pillen, who is also the Republican gubernatorial nominee, said the agreement to be considered by regents is "a very, very, very conservative approach" to selling beer.

He added the board would have the option to end beer sales after two years.

The board's agenda is set to be published Thursday morning. Regents will convene for their meeting at the University of Nebraska at Kearney on Sept. 30.

Sam Panayotovich joins to explain why Sports Wagering is becoming as essential as alcohol at sports venues.

Alcohol flows for the first time at a Husker sporting event in Lincoln
Watch Now: Regents rescind ban on booze, paving way for beer to be sold at Husker events
Regents to consider first step toward alcohol sales at Husker games

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS

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Higher education/statehouse reporter

A native of Beatrice, Chris Dunker has reported on higher education, state government and other issues since joining the Journal Star in 2014.

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