The price to pay for campus bars on New Year’s Eve

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Kenyon Edmond

Students standing in line outside of Red Lion on Oct. 17.

By Emma Palatnik, Assistant features editor

On New Year’s Eve, many students travel back to Champaign to ring in the new year at various campustown bars.

Cover, or the entrance fee to a bar, on any normal night ranges from $5 to $10, but on New Year’s Eve, prices drastically increase. Some bars even charge as much as $75.

Ahead of time, many campustown bars sell tickets that include the typical entrance fee, but the tickets may also include food, drink deals, champagne and even giveaways.

Tickets start at lower prices, but as New Year’s approaches, the costs increase. Currently, single tickets for The Red Lion and The Clybourne are $75, $30 for Firehaus, $35 for Joe’s Brewery and $35 for KAM’s.

When tickets first go on sale at The Red Lion, employees can sell them to their friends using their employee discount while they last for around $25 to $30. After those initial sales, prices increase.

Tickets for The Red Lion are so high because of the deals available that night, said Codie Black, an employee at The Red Lion and sophomore in LAS.

The Red Lion is offering deals on shots, wells, pitchers and beer. It also has catered food, giveaways and champagne at midnight.

By selling tickets instead of having regular at-the-door cover, Black said The Red Lion can make the number of people inside the bar more manageable.

“It’s not like a normal Saturday night where it’s body to body in there and you can’t really move and it takes forever to get drinks; it’s not the most fun experience,” Black said.

The reason for the high-priced tickets is similar for Joe’s Brewery. Its tickets include other opportunities outside of drink deals as well, like burgers and photo booths.

KAM’s and The Clybourne offer similar options alongside their tickets with drink deals, party favors and food.

Sarah Kate Weibel, sophomore in LAS, along with her friends, is making the trip back to Champaign this weekend to celebrate New Year’s Eve at The Clybourne.

“Me and my friends decided to go back and pay that extra amount because when they raise cover they also include deals,” Weibel said. “Overall you’re probably not paying that much more than you would on your average night of going out to bars.”

Another aspect that draws students back to Champaign is that you must be 19 years old to enter instead of 21 like in other towns.

Patrick Wales, Joe’s Brewery employee and senior in AHS, said sometimes when students are not 21, they might spend New Year’s in someone’s basement. Champaign bars give them another option with the lower entrance age.

Ringing in the new year in a basement is not as entertaining as at a bar in Champaign, Black said.

“It’s a lot more of a party — you see a lot more people. It’s more of like a controlled rager,” Black said. “I think it’s a lot more fun than hanging out with a couple friends in your basement drinking (and) watching the ball drop. That’s fun, but I feel like everybody did that in high school, and now that you’re in college, you’re experiencing the bars and you want to go back and party that way.”

Weibel, like Black, celebrated in someone’s basement in high school. She said bars eliminate many of the issues encountered with those kinds of parties.

“In a basement, you’re more constricted. Only so many people can fit, only so many parents are OK with having their kids there,” Weibel said. “When you’re at a bar, at your college campus, you can have fun and don’t have to worry about your parents or excluding someone because there’s always that issue of, ‘Oh there’s too many people, this person can’t come’ — (a) classic high school issue.”

New Year’s Eve is also a time for students to reunite with their friends in the midst of winter break. 

“I live in Galesburg, Illinois, which is very far away from Chicago; it’s like three hours from Chicago,” Black said. “Most people are from the Chicago area, so for me, I’m going to go back and hang out with my buddies because I have a closer connection with them than I do with people from home now.”

Students can also bring their friends from home to Champaign to celebrate New Year’s, which Wales has done in the past.

On a night like New Year’s, there is a risk of not being able to enter or to get drinks at some of the more popular bars on campus. Last year, Wales had a friend who bought a ticket to The Clybourne but waited in line for a few hours because the bar was at maximum capacity.

“That’s a horrible situation to run into because that does happen at bars,” Wales said.

Even with higher cover prices and the risk of being busy, students can experience 2018 in their Champaign bar of choice.

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