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As of August 1st, the SEC officially lifted its ban on stadium-wide alcohol sales with some restrictions. With just a few weeks of the 2019-20 college football season behind us, we have yet to see the consequences of the SEC’s decision to loosen restrictions on alcohol sales.
Alcohol Sales at College Football Games
Selling alcohol at college football games is relatively new in the U.S. Previously, the Southeastern Conference prohibited the sale of alcohol in public areas of SEC athletic venues. Now, alcohol sales at college sporting events are becoming the norm rather than the exception.
With the recent announcement, institutions in the SEC are now permitted to determine whether or not they will allow stadium-wide sales of alcohol at football games.
There are, however, some restrictions in place for any institutions that decide to sell alcohol at SEC games, such as:
- Alcoholic beverages can only be sold at designated stationary locations
- Alcoholic beverages may not be sold by vendors within the seating areas
- An ID is required at every point of sale
- Alcoholic beverage sales are limited to beer and wine only (no hard liquor or mixed drinks may be sold in public seating areas)
- Limits must be established on the number of drinks purchased at one time by an individual
- Alcohol must be dispensed into cups
- Safe server training and additional training for staff to handle high-risk situations is required
- Designated stop times for sale and/or distribution of alcohol must be enforced1
Why Lift the Ban on Stadium-Wide Alcohol Sales?
The decision to lift the ban on stadium-wide alcohol sales at SEC football games may leave many people wondering, “Why?” especially considering the impact it could have on students who are susceptible to addiction.
The primary reason for this decision is most likely money, as the SEC is looking for ways to increase revenue.2 For example, in its first year of alcohol sales at games, Ohio State generated more than a million dollars in additional revenue and in 2016, UT gained $1.3 million in profit due to alcohol sales.
A desirable boost in game attendance is also likely to occur. Additionally, some individuals argue that the sale of alcohol at SEC football games could limit the number of alcohol-related incidents, violence, and binge drinking or prevent students from smuggling alcohol into the game illegally while still limiting overall consumption.
Tailgating or pre-game partying is a popular pastime of many students during football season. Some of this drinking occurs off-site, not at the stadium, so it wouldn’t necessarily prevent pre-game binge drinking. However, studies do support the theory that alcohol sales at the stadium reduce incidences of binge drinking, so this is a lingering question.3
Which SEC Football Stadiums Sell Alcohol?
The following SEC football teams have announced that they will sell alcoholic beverages to the general public at football games this season.4
- Arkansas Razorbacks
- LSU Tigers
- Missouri Tigers
- Tennessee Volunteers
- Texas A&M Aggies
- Vanderbilt Commodores
Potential Consequences of SEC Game Alcohol Sales
While many fans are celebrating the recent change, allowing stadium-wide alcohol sales at SEC football game may also come with some unintended consequences, such as:
- More underage drinking: Students who are 21 and up could easily buy the alcohol and give it to their underage peers. Enforcing consistent ID checks could also be difficult.
- A less family-friendly environment: SEC games aren’t just for college students. Many families enjoy attending with their loved ones. However, allowing the sale of alcohol at SEC games could potentially make for a less family-friendly environment.
- Negative fan behavior: Although there are limitations on the sale and consumption of alcohol within SEC stadiums, a steady flow of alcohol throughout the game may introduce some tense late-game situations that may be inappropriate or dangerous for other fans.
- Mixed messages: Many of the fans attending SEC games are underage and increasing access to alcohol in a collegiate environment could send the message that it’s okay to overindulge in alcohol because it’s what you do at football games.
College students already face exceptional challenges due to the alcohol-saturated cultures at many colleges and universities around the country. Allowing stadium-wide alcohol sales at SEC football games could increase the likelihood that students will overindulge, create bad habits, and contribute to negative fan behavior at games.