Budweiser Dethroned at UT

The Budweiser sign under the scoreboard at Pepin/Rood Stadium has dried up. AT’T, the telecommunications giant, has sponsored a part of the cost for repairs to the scoreboard and will receive a banner ad beneath it.

The University of Tampa athletic program previously had a close relationship with the wireless carrier Cingular, often giving away prize packages from Cingular at games. AT’T and Cingular recently merged to create a new communications company.

As part of the new relationship, AT’T will feature a two-page spread on the Tampa Spartans in the Real Yellow Pages.

“We’re excited to be partnering with AT’T Real Yellow Pages on their inaugural Tampa directory,” said UT Assistant Athletic Director Gil Swalls in a press release. “We’re especially proud of the many accomplishments of our Spartans.”

The special Spartans section will contain phone numbers and web addresses for Tampa Athletics as well as general information about the University. The Real Yellow Pages are distributed throughout the central and south Florida regions.

“As part of our agreement, my staff will be distributing CD versions of the AT’T Real Yellow Pages to UT mailboxes sometime within the next two weeks,” said Swalls, also the

Director of Sports Marketing.

The outgoing Budweiser sign has been a subject of debate for the past few years. An increasing trend across the nation has been to reduce the presence of alcohol distributors at collegiate athletic events.

Alcohol cannot be sold at intercollegiate games, despite the close relationship of tailgating and competition.

At the University of Tampa, however, Pepin Distributing contributed largely to the building of Pepin/Rood Stadium. Pepin is one of the largest distributors of Anheuser-Busch products in the Tampa Bay region, claiming a 69 percent share of the beer market in the Hillsborough and Pasco communities.

Pepin’s ties to the Anheuser-Busch products, including Budweiser, led to the sign being placed on the soccer field.

Lightning strikes and other weather problems crippled the scoreboard last fall. The athletic department got through the season using a radio-controlled, much smaller scoreboard placed below the main one. The radio system rarely worked, leaving fans confused as to the score and time of the game.

The upgrades are needed to provide a satisfactory scoreboard to the University’s stadium. The new sign will be in place for the fall season, ending the legacy of alcoholic advertising at UT athletic events.

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