KNOXVILLE (WATE) – At the start of another college football season, schools around the country find themselves having conversations about selling alcohol at stadiums.
More than 30 college stadiums already allow alcohol sales and that list has grown, so the question is if it could happen at Neyland. There is definitely drinking before fans go into the stadium, but will alcohol ever be sold in the stadium?
Fans had mixed reaction to having beer and wine sold in the stands.
“I would like to see it I think it would be really fun it would be great revenue for the school and for the stadium I think it would bring a whole new fun element to game day. I would be in full support,” said Lindsay George.
“As a fan, I’m more of an advocate of family atmosphere, family environment, so even though it’s happening, I would say do not sell alcohol,” said Tim Johnson.
State Rep. Eddie Smith says the Knox County delegation discussed the issue in January.
“A couple of times it was brought up. This is a way to increase some revenue for UT because the state has limited resources,” said Smith.
He says they ran the numbers, and if alcohol was served at non-sporting events like concerts, the university would bring in $500,000 to $600,000 more a year. Adding sporting events to the equation causes that number to skyrocket to more than $1 million.
Smith says they also heard from some opposed to selling alcohol in the stadium, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
“College campuses have a larger number of underage young adults and putting alcohol into that situation gives more underage people access to alcohol,” he said. “Are we now injecting a whole lot of individuals who are driving impaired who might not be now?”
According to MADD’s Tennessee Program Director Kate Ritchie, the organization does not have a opinion on how alcohol is sold.
“MADD’s mission is to stop drunk driving, fight drugged driving, serve the victims of this crime, and prevent underage drinking. MADD does not have a position on how alcohol is sold, as long as it is only sold to those who are 21 and over,” said Ritchie.
Smith says lawmakers also want to hear more from UT administrators.
“Some of us have different Board of Trustees members that live in our district, so we are just kind of having a lot of informal discussions. Is it something the university wants? Is it something that could help the university?”
A university spokesperson said: “At this time, the university has not chosen to pursue drink service in our premium seating.” Smith emphasizes no decisions have been made. Information is just being gathered.
“We are having just a lot of conversations with constituents, with different groups involved. We have started having low level informal discussions with the university,” Smith said.
Currently, according to a spokesperson, the Southeastern Conference bans the sales of alcohol in public areas of SEC facilities, but the restriction does not apply to private areas like suite and club areas. Smith says in order to have alcohol sales stadium-wide, legislation would have to pass and the SEC would have to change the policy.
“It would take action by our institutions at our annual spring meetings in May to change this policy,” said the SEC spokesperson.
Smith says no changes will be made this season.