Alcohol will be sold during Lobo football and basketball games this season.
On Tuesday the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department granted UNM a liquor license for sales in suite- and club-level areas inside The Pit and University Stadium.
“We have obtained the license, and we will move forward with our plans,” Sports Information Director Frank Mercogliano said.
The action came after a contentious eight-month battle with the Albuquerque City Council.
In November, the council cited public safety concerns when it denied UNM’s waiver request of a state law that bans alcohol sales within 300 feet of a school.
UNM needed the waiver in order to receive the go-ahead from the state to sell alcohol. After the council shot down its request, UNM took the matter to an arbitrator.
In April the arbitrator said the city’s concerns were inconsistent because alcohol is served at Isotopes Park, which is across the street from both venues.
On Tuesday State District Judge Shannon Bacon said the city had to comply with the arbitrator’s decision and sign the waiver.
Later that day, UNM took its waiver to the state and won its right to sell alcohol, a spokesperson at the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department said.
“We’re glad and grateful this particular issue has been resolved and we can move forward,” UNM spokesperson Susan McKinsey said.
Jeremy Otzenberger, an Albuquerque resident who regularly attends UNM games, said selling alcohol at the venues is a bad idea.
“I think this is just too much temptation for underage drinking,” he said. “You are selling alcohol somewhere where a lot of students are going to be getting pretty crazy … It seems no one can enjoy anything these days without getting completely smashed… I remember my college days back in the 70s, and we were idiots.”
Alcohol service, however, will be restricted to specific areas — suites that cost up to $40,000 a season and $1,000-per-game seats, and McKinsey said fans shouldn’t expect University Stadium and the Pit to be raucous alcohol-fueled environments.
“It’s not like booze is going to be flowing down the mezzanine,” she said. “It’s not like Isotopes Park where there is beer everywhere.”
The Athletics Department said it will assist local law enforcement to ensure fans are not over-served alcohol and do not drive away from the venues intoxicated.
“I don’t know how it will affect the atmosphere. We’ll have to wait and see,” Mercogliano said. “I guess we’ll all see together.”
Luke Holmen contributed to this report.