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Sandy Journal

New beer sales boost revenue for Sandy Amphitheater

Dec 04, 2019 10:09AM ● By Justin Adams

The introduction of beer sales at the Sandy Amphitheater resulted in three times more revenue from concessions. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

For the first time this year, attendees of shows at the Sandy Amphitheater had the opportunity to buy beer from its concession stands. That change (among others) resulted in a significant amount of increased revenue for the city-owned venue, according to a report submitted to the city council. 

Between 2014 and 2018, the amphitheater brought in an average of $11,795 from concessions per season. After introducing beer sales in 2019, that total jumped up to $34,418. (Those figures represent the amphitheater’s 20% cut of the total concession revenue, the majority of which goes to the concessionaire.) 

The move to allow alcohol sales also brought along some new expenses, explained Mearle Marsh, director of the Sandy Amphitheater. For example, there are costs associated with obtaining an alcohol license, which in turn requires the venue to provide more security staff for its shows. There were also infrastructure costs for implementing the new point-of-sale locations for the beer. 

Between both the increased revenue and expenses associated with the new policy, Marsh told the city council he thinks they’ve come out ahead. 

Councilman Chris McCandless expressed some concern about the new beer sales inside the venue. 

“The guys behind me in my season ticket seats spilt beer on us and then used some F-bombs to describe how distraught they were about the beer-spilling event. That was kind of rough. Not what I wanted to go there to be part of. First time I’ve ever experienced in my many years of going to the Sandy Amphitheater,” McCandless said.

He went on to question whether it might be better for the city to operate the amphitheater at a loss in order to maintain its alcohol-free status. 

“I think every quality of life venue in the city is subsidized by the city, so breaking even in my opinion is not all it’s cracked up to be,” he said. “Parks are subsidized. Everything we do is subsidized. Subsidizing the amphitheater to maintain a quality that has been there prior to this occurrence, I think was worth the money spent.” 

Marsh said that having to deal with drunken attendees isn’t a new problem, but that it was simply more visible this year.

“In the past, people just brought it in, and we had no control over how much they were consuming. Sometimes people would come in already loaded because they knew they couldn’t get one there. So we’ve always had issues with having to take people out or people complaining,” he said. 

At least for now, Marsh said the amphitheater staff is planning to double-down on alcohol sales next year. “We’re looking to be more aggressive. We’re looking to see how we can set up more points of sale.”

Concessions aren’t the only source of increased revenue for the amphitheater this year. They also saw an increased total number of paid attendees and increased their ticket prices. This resulted in ticket sales jumping from $779,176 in 2018 to $985,093 this year, a 26% increase.