On May 31 at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Florida, it was announced that each school in the Southeastern Conference now has full authority to prohibit or allow the sale of alcohol during sporting events.
The resolution, which goes into effect on Aug. 1, includes multiple restrictions like establishing designated stationary locations, prohibiting sales by vendors throughout the stands and limiting the number of beverages per transaction.
“This policy is intended to enhance the game day experience at SEC athletics events,” said Harris Pastides, University of South Carolina President and current chair of the SEC Presidents and Chancellors. “[Done] by providing our schools the autonomy to make appropriate decisions for their respective campuses while also establishing expectations for responsible management of the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages.”
The other “alcohol management expectations” laid out by the decision are an ID check at every point of sale, a strict cup-only policy, mandatory staff training required for high risk situations and designated stop times for distribution.
In many of the private and premium areas , alcoholic beverages are served to donors and significant alumni.
In the University of Georgia’s case, there is a new area at Sanford Stadium limited to Magill Society members. To join said club — established in 2015 — one must agree to donate at least $25,000 to the UGA Atheltics Association.
According to the Senior Associate Athletic Director Claude Felton, the new area is only a pregame and halftime “hospitality area” where Magill Society members will be able to purchase beer and wine during and before Georgia football games.
Other than the private area, Athletic Director Greg McGarity announced on Tuesday there will be no sale of alcohol to non-premium seating areas in the many athletic facilities across Athens.
“We will conduct an annual review of this policy to determine if any modifications may be needed in the future,” said McGarity.
Fourth-year Emmie Landford agreed with the decision, saying the introduction of alcohol into the general seating areas could create a problematic environment.
“I think there’s a lot of potential for that to be dangerous,” Landford said. “Especially with the prevalence of fake IDs.”
Best of the rest
A host of Football Bowl Subdivision schools across the country currently sell alcohol to their general fan bases at stadiums, and now the SEC has given each university the opportunity to follow suit. But, will they?
As of now, most SEC schools have been careful with their words and relatively silent in hopes to continue the discussion about logistics and safety of a potential policy change.
The SEC Working Group put the proposal together to encourage schools to have a choice in whether or not alcohol can be sold to the general public at their respective stadiums.
The University of Alabama, the University of Florida, the University of Arkansas, the University of Missouri and the University of Tennessee all had representatives in the group.
While some universities like Ole Miss and Mississippi State are being held back by state laws resricting any stadium alcohol sales, others are making the decision to stick with their original policies for now. Alabama has been the most vocal as it released a statement regarding the matter.
“We have one of the best game-day atmospheres in the country, and we don’t envision making changes at this time,” the statement said.