Joe Carter isn't solving the world's most pressing problems, but he is making the beer-buying experience quite a spectacle.
The Bottoms Up beer dispensing system that the food and beverage director brought to the Thomas & Mack Center induced oohs and aahs during the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The sight sent fans reaching for their phones to upload the novel way to fill a cup.
Bartender Michael Harris says, "Customers wonder how it's going to work. It's fun to see the expressions on their faces. They'll even go get their friends and bring them back to prove what they saw."
The system improved the speed of service -- making for shorter lines and happier customers -- and reduced spoilage by 80 percent, Carter says.
A Bonus for Fans
The Thomas & Mack Center was the first college arena to embrace Bottoms Up, but it almost didn't happen. Wary of the equipment cost, Carter was lukewarm when inventor Josh Springer of GrinOn Industries approached him. The dispenser that fills four beers at a time costs $3,500 and the cups cost 45 cents compared to 10 cents for a regular cup.
Springer agreed to provide the Bottoms Up equipment, which Carter tested during the May 2009 Supercross event at Sam Boyd Stadium. He loved the system, but wondered if fans would keep paying more for beer in a fancy cup once the novelty wore off?
Then he thought of a way to cover the added cost of the cups while giving fans something worth the extra buck: a keepsake magnet.
Carter has sold six runs of advertising for a total of $30,000 and has sold three more for events later this year. Plus, UNLV has sold more than 138,000 beers in the special cup at a $1 more per cup. Two of the more popular magnets commemorated this year's National Finals Rodeo events and the UNLV/Wisconsin football game, which featured Budweiser's logo.
"I was sold immediately after seeing the reactions of fans. It gave them something to smile about," Carter says. "It has really taken off from there."
The only "problem" is when patrons can't resist testing out the mechanics of the system. Every now and then, someone pokes a finger through the hole. (Hint: the magnet will lift up, spilling a little of your beer.)