Ohio State is An Example for the Rest of the Country for Selling Alcohol During Football Games, for Better or for Worse

By Johnny Ginter on May 31, 2019 at 10:20 am
South Bound and Down

"What the hell do we want to go to Columbus for and haul beer back to Georgia?"

"For the good ol' American life. For the money, for the glory, and for the fun.                                                                                            Mostly for the money."

The University of Georgia is piloting a program to sell alcohol in Stanford Stadium for the first time. But, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there's a catch.

The University of Georgia will sell beer and wine in one specific area on the club level of Sanford Stadium during the 2019 football season, UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity said Wednesday. The club level, also known as the 200 level, is considered a “premium seating” area and has controlled access, and the sales are available only to a certain level of donor.

Basically, you have to donate $25,000 American dollars to get into the "Gas-Station-Brand-Wine-and-Tepid-Natty-Light Club," which is funny because that's a lot of money for bad alcohol. It's even funnier because the University of Georgia is in The South, which I've been led to believe is entirely populated by foppish dandies in ornate white suits drinking mint juleps all day or insane rednecks in cutoff jorts drinking fermented raccoon blood in their '76 Trans Ams.

Either way, it's a surprising amount of caution, but as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out in their article, the SEC as a whole is trying to figure out how they feel about alcohol and football.

At least officially. Unofficially, it's pretty damn clear how most people, north or south or east or west feel about alcohol and football. Which might actually be part of the hold-up.

Binge drinking is a severe problem on college campuses and elsewhere in the United States, and is particularly prevalent in adults from the ages of 18-34. That schools might be wary about providing yet another avenue for people to get trashed during a game isn't an unfounded or illogical worry; there are health and liability concerns that have to be sorted out before anyone can start drunkenly spilling an $11 12-ounce beer on the person in the row in front of them. Former Missouri State University President Michael Neitzel wants schools to exercise caution, and his concerns aren't totally unfounded.

And hey, guess what? Ohio State took the same track that Georgia currently is on right now, in that alcohol was first only offered to those of appropriate status before it was filtered down to the unwashed masses too poor to afford box seats.

Still, once Ohio State started selling alcohol stadium-wide, what they discovered was that stadium incidents actually went down, rather than up. At least temporarily. From The Lantern:

For the 2016 season, the Department of Public Safety recorded 26 arrests inside the stadium, 25 ejections, six arrests outside the stadium and four citations. In 2015, when alcohol was sold exclusively to fans at the suite and club level, there were a total of 85 ejections, 18 in-stadium arrests, seven out-of-stadium arrests and 65 citations.

Wow! Alcohol truly is the cause of and solution to all of life's probl-

He said the opportunity to purchase beer inside the stadium and the university’s no-bag policy limited the amount of alcohol consumed outside the stadium, as well as reduced the amount of alcohol coming into the stadium illegally.

Oh. Okay, the no-bag thing probably helps a lot, but the basic concept makes sense: allow people to buy a moderate amount of alcohol in the stadium will hopefully preclude them from binge-drinking an extreme amount of alcohol beforehand and/or bringing it into the stadium as often. Right?

Well, maybe not. As Dan wrote last year, alcohol related incidents have been on a slight uptick overall since Ohio State started selling alcohol at games, which isn't surprising but it is disappointing to people who wanted to put a positive social spin on the sales.

Ohio State fans enjoying the game and a drink

The increase in alcohol-related incidents doesn't jibe with the claim often made which is that people won't pay exorbitant prices for alcoholic drinks, but the data suggests otherwise. Ohio State has made millions off of alcohol sales in the 'Shoe, and at this point it's an embedded part of the bottom line that the athletic department relies on.

Because yeah, this is ultimately about money more than anything else. Decreasing stadium fights and encouraging people not to drink like morons are both good and noble ventures, but in reality the push to sell alcohol in college football stadiums is about an anxiety about declining revenues more than anything else. If those ventures fail but the revenues are there, the sales will 100% continue.

While it is surprising that many schools, including Georgia (with its rich heritage of Coors smuggling), would balk at doing so for so long, the reality is that no matter their statements to the contrary, once a college sees an economic benefit from selling alcohol at games it'll be hard to resist the siren song of the devil's nectar.

Still, while an increasing amount of schools, especially in the Big Ten, are beginning to follow Ohio State and Texas and others in selling alcohol, the skepticism is still there. Here's Clemson Athletic Director Dan Radakovich, in an interview with The State:

“I think that Clemson has an incredibly unique game day environment, and it’s one that is so family friendly that people come to,” Radakovich said. “There’s probably on any given day, depending on the game, 20,000 to 40,000 people outside the stadium, in addition to the 80,000 that are inside the stadium.”

Which is a wonderful sentiment! But I wonder if he and the rest of the Clemson administration would still feel that way if those 120,000 people started to dwindle down to something like 100,000 or 85,000.

Maybe if that happens, just maybe, southern schools might welcome ol' Ryan Day, trucking down I-75 in the General Grant, leading a shipment of Ohio's finest/cheapest.

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