Tennessee bill would allow alcohol sales at campus venues, but not during games

Local News

Tennessee Sen. Becky Duncan Massey (R-District 6) aims to even the playing field when it comes to recruiting events to Knoxville. She filed a bill this week that aims to allow sports facilities on college campuses to sell alcohol. 

Due to the Southeastern Conference’s (SEC) rules on alcohol, there still wouldn’t be any for sale at Neyland Stadium or Thompson-Boling Arena during a game, excluding private areas like skyboxes. 
Here’s a full text of the SEC rule: 

“No alcoholic beverages shall be sold or dispensed for public consumption anywhere in the facility and the possession and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages in the public areas of the facility shall be prohibited.  These prohibitions shall not apply to private, leased areas in the facility or other areas designated by the SEC.”

Although this bill doesn’t directly impact gameday, Massey believes it could bring bigger performing artists and events to Knoxville’s largest venue, Neyland Stadium, and Thompson-Boling Arena. 

Massey admitted she didn’t know Knoxville was behind other cities in recruiting performing artists and events to its venues. She says county, city, and University of Tennessee officials support the idea and hope for the chance to better compete with nearby hubs including Lexington, Kentucky and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In speaking with event promotors, Massey learned other cities have the advantage of offering a portion of alcohol proceeds to the artist or booking agency. Sometimes, she learned, this knocks Knoxville out of the running.

“The big names that are going around and looking, they’re not going to come to Knoxville without the encouragement or the extra incentive being made to either them or their promoter,” she added. 

Other major Tennessee cities including Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Murfreesboro are already able to have these kinds of events, which benefit UT Chattanooga and Middle Tennessee State University. Duncan Massey sees it as only fair for the University of Tennessee’s flagship campus to have the same opportunity.

“It’s not right that they can do it and we can’t,” she said. 

The director of communications for the University of Tennessee System, which encompasses all UT campuses around the state.

“The University is working to estimate potential revenue should the bill become law.  While we do not have specific figures at this time, we believe the revenue would be significant.  The UT System supports the proposal and its responsible implementation, and will be following this bill closely as it moves through the legislative process.”

The Knox County Beer Board would have final approval. Ultimately, although the bill allows sports facilities on public colleges to sell alcohol, it would be up to the individual campuses and their local governments to implement the change. 

Alexis Bass, a senior at UTK, thinks this will generate a lot of money for the school. On a personal note, she’s excited about the idea of a big named artist, like her first pick, Miguel, coming to her college campus. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

WATE 6 On Your Side Twitter