Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Selling alcohol in SEC makes a lot of cents
In this Dec. 5, 2014, file photo, SEC logo is displayed on the field ahead of the Southeastern Conference championship football game between Alabama and Missouri in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
It has been inevitable since the first time someone on school property popped a trunk and a beer to create tailgating.
The sale of wine and beer at football games has been watched closely since West Virginia began doing it in 2011 and found there were less in-game incidences with drunks.
That’s a reason the SEC changed its rules last week and left it up to each member institution to decide whether it wants to sell adult beverages at games.
The biggest reason is the money, or in this case loss of potential resources.
As the courts get closer and closer to declaring athletes should be paid when their images are used for promotions and sales, schools — especially from the Power 5 conferences — are going to search for more revenue.
Oregon sells wine and beer, and it reported almost a 50 percent decline in alcohol-related incidences during games.
The idea is that tailgaters will drink less knowing they can have a cold one while in the stadium.
That might help most of the SEC schools, but a close eye will be kept on LSU, where tailgating is such a river of booze that no one wants to play the Tigers at night because the fans are so rowdy.
It is easy to point a finger at LSU, where many people would go watch a lawn-mowing contest if they could buy cold beer, but all the schools are going to have to develop hard rules.
University of Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek is on top of that subject.
He said that if a proposal from Chancellor Joe Steinmetz and him is approved by the board of trustees, they will most likely limit sales to one at a time and close the vendors down at the end of the third quarter.
Yurachek also said the price would be slightly higher inside.
Hopefully he isn’t talking Jerry’s World “slightly higher” prices.
The thing is, there has always been booze at the games.
The checkpoint people try, but you can walk through Reynolds Razorback Stadium or War Memorial after a game and always see half-pint liquor bottles that found a way in.
An old friend had binoculars that were really a flask, and not once in all his years did he get caught.
Concealing a bladder full of wine taken out of a box was popular, too.
However, once alcohol became legal in suites and club-level seating, it had to be made available to the masses.
It is a little surprising someone who sits in the end zone or on the sidelines has not filed a lawsuit on the grounds the rich were getting richer and the average Joe was getting nothing.
Heck, maybe it would have helped second-half attendance if they had done this two years ago when Razorbacks football started tanking and a good number of folks would abandon the game at the half and head to their tailgates in hopes of forgetting what they had just witnessed.
There will be some folks who are upset about this change.
And one of them is going to get wine or beer spilled on them sometimes, not necessarily because someone is over the limit, but it just happens when 72,000 people are jumping up and down cheering.
Yes, there is going to be more cheering this year than the previous two season.
The Razorbacks didn’t have a quarterback on campus last season as good as the two who transferred in. That is just one position, but it is an important one.
The prediction is that Yurachek will have a great plan for security, and that the wine and beer sold will be for celebration instead of drowning sorrows. And the UA will have a serious new revenue source.
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.