SEC to Review Alcohol Policy for Fans at Neutral-Site Games

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIMarch 6, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 02:  Fans participate in tailgating activities before the game between the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field on November 2, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Southeastern Conference is reportedly planning to review its policy regarding the sale of alcohol at neutral-site games.

Jon Solomon of reported Thursday morning that, according to SEC associate commissioner Herb Vincent, the alcohol policy at off-campus home games and neutral-site games is on its agenda for the spring.

If approved, this won't be a full move toward alcohol being sold at SEC home games, but it would be a step in that direction.

Commissioner Mike Slive said that he is happy with the current policy, though he is willing to hear alternate ideas.

"Up to now, we like our rule. I haven't heard any concerted interest in changing our rule, but our people would like to talk about it. We're institutions of higher education and alcohol on campuses has been an issue for a long while. I think this is an area where we want to walk slowly and carefully."

While it appears as though Slive might take some convincing, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva expressed his desire for beer to be sold at home games, citing that it could actually prevent alcohol-related incidents during on-campus games:

I don't think that's something that would necessarily be a negative for drunkenness and it might curtail the drunkenness if you sold beer. Right now, they drink excessively in the parking lot before they come in because they can't get alcohol inside. Perhaps if they had access in the stadium, they wouldn't drink as much when they come in. I think it's something we have to talk about. This may come down the road in the future, and I wouldn't be opposed to it.

Allowing the sale of beer in stadiums might sound counterproductive to incident prevention, but recent cases have proven otherwise. Most notably, West Virginia began selling beer at its home games while in the Big East and carried it over on its move to the Big 12 conference, and the results were remarkable.

As detailed by an Associated Press report (via the Charleston Gazette), the number of calls, arrests and charges filed were down, as were the number of behavioral complaints.

Meanwhile, concession sales were through the roof. The report stated that those sales were up an astounding 84 percent overall from the previous season.

Those numbers have schools in the SEC and around the country taking notice. Arkansas recently pushed through a plan to sell beer and wine in private suites, as Bob Holt of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

It is understandable that the SEC is slow to allow beer sales in its general seating areas. The approval of sales at off-campus games could be a good test for the league to see how it might work at on-campus stadiums.