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SEC Continues Debate Over Alcohol Policy

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Amidst ongoing discussion over the application of alcohol sales in college sports, officials in the SEC are continuing to debate the conference’s policy.

In recent years, there has been a considerable uptick in the number of college athletic venues–including football stadiums–that have begun selling alcohol. Restrictions have been applied in some cases, but the influx has included many programs that are looking to create another revenue source and bring a new offering to their facilities.

The NCAA Division I council is expected to approve a plan this week that effectively abolishes the prohibition of alcohol sales at championship events, which has prompted some questions about SEC policies. Currently, conference rules state that alcohol sales are not allowed to be conducted on a stadium-wide basis and are to be limited to private areas such as premium seating. In the case of college football, some programs have introduced alcohol sales in new premium areas. That includes LSU, which added The Skyline Club–an area with alcohol sales–to Tiger Stadium last year.

When discussing the conference’s policy recently, Commissioner Greg Sankey indicated that changing the rule will not be easy. There are schools in the SEC that are expressing a clear desire for a looser alcohol policy, but Sankey is indicating that not all of the conference’s schools are on the same page. More from The Advocate:

So what’s stopping stadium-wide alcohol sales? Some member schools.

“We have some that would like to remove the policy and have others that have no interest in that,” Sankey said. “From a stadium wide (standpoint), there are those that think ‘Let’s just take the restraint off the conference level.’ But that’s not a unanimous or, I’m not sure right now, a majority position.”

The policy only can change through a majority vote of the 14 league presidents and chancellors, a possibility next month at the SEC’s spring meetings in Destin, Florida. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva has made it clear in which corner his school stands: LSU wants the ability to sell, at least, beer throughout Tiger Stadium and other venues.

Alleva has said in the past he believes the venue-wide sale of beer could help attendance. He said last fall that there are “a significant number of presidents that think that needs to be done.”

While the policy has had an implication on football stadiums, it should be noted that SEC schools have sought to make changes to their facilities to sell beer at other sporting events. That includes baseball, as both Texas A&M and Auburn have added areas to their ballparks where alcohol can be sold in accordance with conference policy.

Image of Tiger Stadium courtesy LSU football. 

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