The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has given its approval for a liquor license for a vendor at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
As Mark Hughes Cobb reported in the Tuscaloosa News, a majority of the Tuscaloosa City Council voted on granting a license for Levy Premium Foodservice LP to sell beer and wine in the stadium at its August, 17, 2022, weekly council meeting.
An ID will be required at every point of sale.
During a City Council hearing in February, Levy Premium Foodservice representative Herbert Tesh said that a concern of the “women from the Alabama Beverage Control Board” would be the purchase of alcohol for minors by legally aged patrons. He had said that IDs for purchasers would be checked. “It just makes sense, it’s easier and it takes the guess work out of it. It’s going to make a few people upset, but at the end of the day if you want to have a beer, you’re just going to have to show your ID.”
Susan Dworak wrote a position paper on fake IDs for the Center for Alcohol Policy:
Fake IDs are easy to buy and easy to create, and the fake IDs flooding the market today are so sophisticated that they are fooling high tech scanners. Many underage drinkers use fake
IDs to access alcohol, and they’re drinking a lot of it.
If fake IDs can not be detected by high tech scanners, how can a beer hawker in the stadium’s stands detect an ID?
The problems resulting from alcohol sales that have existed at football stadiums was the subject of a February 13, 2022, Franklin Stove Blog post. Tennessee fans pelted the Ole Miss team with various items, including beer cans, in October 2021, after a loss. Adam Sparks in the Knoxville News Sentinel wrote:
There were 18 arrests and 51 ejections in UT’s game against Ole Miss. UT sold 47,890 alcoholic beverages for $547,726 in revenue at the Ole Miss game. Those numbers were the highest for a single game since UT started selling beer and wine at football games.
As reported by the Montgomery Advertiser‘s Alex Byington, the South Eastern Conference (SEC)’s policy was that all alcohol sales must be halted at the end of the third quarter in football games. Perhaps some of the beer cans thrown at the end of the Tennessee Vol‘s game were empties?
In 2019, Shehan Kay wrote that the primary reason for the SEC’s approval of alcohol sales was “most likely money, as the SEC is looking for ways to increase revenue.”
Kay thought about the potential consequences of stadium alcohol sales would be:
- More underage drinking: Students who are 21 and up could easily buy the alcohol and give it to their underage peers. Enforcing consistent ID checks could also be difficult.
- A less family-friendly environment: SEC games aren’t just for college students. Many families enjoy attending with their loved ones. However, allowing the sale of alcohol at SEC games could potentially make for a less family-friendly environment.
- Negative fan behavior: Although there are limitations on the sale and consumption of alcohol within SEC stadiums, a steady flow of alcohol throughout the game may introduce some tense late-game situations that may be inappropriate or dangerous for other fans.
- Mixed messages: Many of the fans attending SEC games are underage and increasing access to alcohol in a collegiate environment could send the message that it’s okay to overindulge in alcohol because it’s what you do at football games.
Will Bryant-Denny Stadium reek from spilled beer? Will some fans not drink to the extent that they become nauseous? Will there be poor behavior by intoxicated fans?
The City of Tuscaloosa had enacted an ordinance on February 8, 2022, where a public safety fee of as much as three dollars per fan at University sports events would be added to the cost of ticket sales.
After Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne objected, the city agreed to a compromise where, instead of the service fee, the University would donate $250,000 to the city each year from 2024-2028. If there had been a three dollar fee per ticket where 100,000 tickets per game were sold, that would amount to $300,000 per football game. In 2022, seven home games were scheduled. Although attendance at some of games might not amount to 100,000 in ticket sales, the city’s “compromise” could result in potentially a yearly loss of nearly two million dollars to fund public safety.
Could that money have been useful? Ryan Phillips in the Patch reported on Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox‘s concerns about the Tuscaloosa Police Department. Ryan wrote:
“Law enforcement is facing a shortage,” he said. “We are running out of assets and we’re pushing our people 14-16 hours a day. We can’t sustain the amount of law enforcement in that area when we have needs throughout the city, as well.”
In T-Town, Alabama football is its number one passion and drinking on game days may come in second.