Some SEC Schools Anticipate Selling Alcohol After Conference Ends Ban
LSU, Texas A&M and Ole Miss "appear to be on the forefront" of SEC schools allowing in-stadium alcohol sales to all fans "as soon as possible" after the conference on Friday voted down the league-wide ban that had been in place, according to Brandon Marcello of 247SPORTS.com. Each school must independently approve whether it wants to sell beer and wine in general-seating areas. Alcohol advertising in venues "will not be allowed, though lounges 'behind the scenes' could be sponsored." The conference "has not yet discussed if it will entertain beer companies to increase revenue through sponsorships as the 'official beer of the SEC.'" Talks of lifting the alcohol ban "bounced between official and unofficial channels over the last five years at the SEC's spring meetings," but the conference "finally got serious with the issue over the last two years" (247SPORTS.com, 5/31). The early reaction from conference members ranged from eagerness to having school officials approve beer and wine sales to some athletic departments already ruling it out for the coming football season (THE DAILY).
STRICT GUIDELINES FOR EACH SCHOOL: ESPN.com's Alex Scarborough reported the new alcohol policy "will limit individuals to purchasing one drink at a time" and comes with "designated stop times." Sales will end after the "end of the third quarter during football games and the second-half 12-minute TV timeout during men's basketball games" (ESPN.com, 5/31). In Baton Rouge, Scott Rabalais noted drinks "must be dispensed into cups," while beer vendors "walking through grandstand areas will be prohibited." SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey: "We will be the only conference to have league-wide standards in place" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 6/1). The conference will "review the policy each year and evaluate fan conduct and alcohol-related incidents for the purpose of determining whether there may be a need to revise" the new rules (DOTHAN EAGLE, 6/1).
IT'S ABOUT TIME: The ADVOCATE's Rabalais wrote the SEC's "most hypocritical rule is now cast into history's ash heap." SEC purists "held out as long as they could," but the "realities of commerce won out over what temperance principles some SEC member schools might have been clinging to" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 6/1). SI.com's Ross Dellenger wrote the SEC is "emerging from the Stone Age by eliminating a policy that exists in no other major conference" (SI.com, 5/31).
FINANCIAL BENEFITS: In Little Rock, Wally Hall wrote the biggest reason to repeal the ban "is the money, or in this case loss of potential resources." Hall: "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" (ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE, 6/2).