At the SEC spring meetings on Friday the SEC voted to lift a ban on selling/serving alcohol at sporting events on campus, which will go into effect on August 1, 2019.
The vote — among chancellors and school presidents — wasn’t unanimous Friday, but passed with a strong majority.
The previous ban was said to reflect the South’s conservative ways, however, with the ever ballooning of coach’s salaries, the facilities arms race and the potential of having to pay players in the future the league sees the opportunity of a new revenue stream.
“Each institution has the autonomy to decide the permissibility of alcohol sales to the general public and to designate the locations where alcoholic beverages may be available, consistent with conference-wide alcohol management expectations,” the league said in a statement.
Commissioner Greg Sankey added, “We are committed as a conference to ensuring that all changes in policy are implemented in ways that respect and sustain the traditions that make the SEC game-day experience exceptional for all attendees.”
It isn’t a blanket rule lifting; the SEC has guidelines and regulations for how alcohol will be sold/served at games.
Alcoholic beverages are to be sold and dispensed only at designated stationary locations
Alcoholic beverages may not be sold by vendors within the seating areas
Identification check is required at every point of sale to prevent sales to minors
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 enforced as follows:
Football (end of 3rd quarter);
Basketball (Men’s—Second half 12-minute TV timeout; Women’s—End of 3rd quarter);
Baseball (end of the top of 7th inning);
Softball (end of the top of the 5th inning); and
Other Sports (At a designated time, no later than when 75% of the event’s regulation length competition is scheduled to be completed).
Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin wouldn’t speak on if the Gators will take advantage of this new rule in 2019. Florida has been serving beer and wine in certain sections of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and the O-Dome. They recently hosted country music superstar Garth Brooks during his stadium tour where beer and wine were available at kiosks throughout the stadium.
“I don’t know that there’s a magic bullet on attendance,” Stricklin said. “I think it could certainly take away something that prohibits people; it could take away an excuse. So could game times. Winning games helps. There’s a lot of factors that go into attendance issues. This could be one that helps that.”
It will be something to keep an eye on as reports have already begun to surface that some schools won’t sell alcohol even with the new ability to do so.
The state of Mississippi, for instance, has a law banning the sale of alcohol on college campuses unless an area or campus gains “resort status.” Mississippi State in Starkville does not, while Ole Miss in Oxford does.
Brandon Marcello reported that Auburn would not sell alcohol at their stadiums in 2019.
Will the Gators? Stricklin seems ready to make the move but wants to make sure Florida does its due diligence.