SEC revision opens door to alcohol sales at sporting events

By: Matt Jones
Published: Friday, May 31, 2019
Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference's annual media gathering, Monday, July 10, 2017, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference's annual media gathering, Monday, July 10, 2017, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

— Southeastern Conference presidents and athletics directors on Friday lifted their alcohol ban at sporting venues, electing to let the league’s member universities decide whether or not to sell alcohol at their home stadiums.

In a statement, the University of Arkansas said it has not yet decided whether to sell alcohol in general-admission areas. The Razorbacks have sold alcohol in suite- and club-level areas at football games since 2014 and at baseball games since earlier this year.

“SEC member institutions now have an opportunity to provide an amenity that is already readily available at many collegiate and professional sports events as well as other entertainment venues,” said Hunter Yurachek, Arkansas’ athletics director who was part of a five-member working group tasked with looking into alcohol guidelines at SEC venues. “The revised policy allows for institutions to increase game day options for fans, while also providing a framework of guidelines and educational programming regarding responsible consumption.

“In many cases across the nation, schools that initiated alcohol sales throughout the venue, saw declines in the number of alcohol-related incidents at their games."

Under the new policy, any sales of alcohol will be limited to beer and wine. Alcohol sales will be subject to conference-wide policies that include prohibiting sales by vendors inside the seating areas, an identification check at every stationary point of sale and limits on how much can be sold to one individual.

Alcohol sales must stop after the third quarter of football games, in the final 12 minutes of basketball games and following the seventh inning stretch at baseball games. Other sports will set designated cutoff times, no later than when 75 percent of a game’s regulation is complete.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said alcohol sales have been the point of discussion and debate for years within the conference.

“As a conference, we have been observant of trends in the sale and consumption of alcohol at collegiate sporting events and have drawn upon the experiences and insights of our member schools which have responsibly established limited alcohol sales within controlled spaces and premium seating areas,” Sankey said in a statement. “We remain the only conference to set forth league-wide standards for the responsible management of the sale of alcoholic beverages.

“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.”

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