Coming to NU: a jump shot and a beer. (Jennifer Fisher photo).

With Northwestern basketball off to an impressive 10-2 start, fans may want to raise a cold one in support of the Wildcats.

Now, those fans will get the chance, in person, at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Starting with the men’s basketball game vs. Ohio State on Jan. 1, beer and wine will be available for purchase to all fans age 21 and older at the arena. Currently, alcohol is only available in the private Wilson Club.

In a statement released by the university, NU says it will become the 10th team in the Big Ten to sell beer outside of private or premium seating.

The league currently has 14 teams, and will have 16 when USC and UCLA join in 2024.

In the statement, Northwestern says vendors will be “trained and certified in responsible alcohol service.”

Fans will have to provide proof of age, and will be given wristbands to show they are eligible to buy alcohol.

The beer-and-wine stands will be separate from the hot dog and pretzel locations, to help with crowd control and ID checking.

“We are continually looking for ways to improve the fan experience for our Wildcats community,” said Tyler Jones, the associate athletics director for revenue generation and strategic initiatives.

In the university statement, Jones also said Northwestern fans are often “patrons who regularly visit many of the world-class professional venues across Chicagoland.”

Jones added that “bringing our gameday experience in line with those facilities is an important step as we strive to offer the best sports entertainment value in the region.”

Beer and wine will also be available at Welsh-Ryan for purchase at women’s basketball, starting with the Michigan State game on Jan. 2, and at wrestling meets, beginning Jan. 7 vs Minnesota.

Northwestern also plans expand alcohol sales at the new Ryan Field football stadium, assuming City Council approves the construction and related issues.

That proposed expansion would permit alcohol sales to all of-age fans throughout the stadium, scheduled to open in 2026. Right now, alcohol sales are only permitted in the stadium club and premium seats.

Some neighbors oppose expanded alchol sales at the new stadium, particularly if such sales are allowed at the concerts NU hopes to host.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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