Is It Time To Allow Booze And Beer To Be Sold In Bryant-Denny?


Nov 15, 2014; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide fans with a sign prior to facing the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a hot topic that won’t go away, but now it’s made its way to conversation pieces in Tuscaloosa. Should alcohol be sold at Alabama athletic events?

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The University of Texas has made the decision to sell alcohol at Royal-Memorial Stadium, so now the question is, “Should Alabama do the same?”

The first order of business is obviously liability. I won’t pretend to know all the legal garbage behind selling alcohol on a college campus, but I’m sure liability is an issue that isn’t simply bypassed. If the University of Alabama decided to follow suit and sell alcohol at athletic events, they would be responsible for any incidents that may follow and could be alcohol-related.

Now here’s my counter to that argument, because it just seems absolutely ridiculous to me that liability is the only hangup.

If liability is such a concern (because you just can’t trust drunks to leave a ball game safely) then how the hell is it almost never an issue at NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and professional soccer matches? It’s just a convenient excuse to… well, I don’t even know a reason why this would even be an excuse.

Again, I won’t ever claim to be a lawyer, but in order to do away with the “liability” concern would be to fully explain in a disclosure on each ticket sold that the University would not be responsible for any incidents that arise due to the consumption of alcohol, just like they do with using someone’s likeness for advertisements and promotions. Of course, it would need to be written better and more elegantly than I put it, but the concept is that simple.

Now that we’re over the legal hurdle, how does the University actually prevent bad things from happening, regardless of liability issues? At first, if alcohol sales do make their way to Bryant-Denny, you probably are thinking that Coors Light, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, and other light beers should be sold at the vendors (vendors that would not be associated with the concessions, kind of like the way they did the smoking sections before smoking was made illegal on college campuses). However, that isn’t the smartest idea, either.

Apr 6, 2015; Madison, WI, USA; Beer is served at the University of Wisconsin Memorial Union in Madison Monday night during the game between the Wisconsin Badgers and Duke Blue Devils in the NCAA Final Four Championship game. Duke defeated Wisconsin 68-63. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Light beers are what college kids drink in order to get drunk at a relatively cheap price. The alcohol content is relatively low, so financially, it would be the best way to make money, since tons of legal students would buy the light beer, along with other fans who are light beer fans. But my suggestion might be the right way to go about doing things.

Don’t sell light beers at all. Cut a deal with local craft breweries (Druid City Brewery and Black Warrior Brewing Company for example in Tuscaloosa), and only sell their stuff. This fixes a lot of issues that may arise.

Now, there would have to be some ground rules to govern who can drink and when to drink. For example:

A) The stadium can sell each beer (most likely by the pint) around $10-$12 a pop, possibly even more. That will break a lot of people’s wallets should they want to drink a lot in the stadium. It may be slightly unfair to some, but the ones who want a nice tasting beer will be willing to shell out a ten spot to get a beer.

B) It’s craft beer. Trying to chug craft beer will leave you feeling sick and bloated. Drinking more than a couple within an hour or two is not the easiest thing in the world to do.

C) It’s a pain in the butt to get beer. You know that the lines will be ridiculously long, so that in and of itself will decrease the amount of alcohol being consumed on an individual level. Sure, you’ll have someone here and there buying eight or nine at a time (maybe even limit it to one beer/person), but how are you going to get them back to your seat? And if you do get all those beers back to your seat, you’ll most likely be wasting them because of the next point.

D) You won’t be allowed to buy alcohol past 7:30 left in the third quarter, nor can you exit the stadium with any alcohol. Yes, I know a few will try to sneak some out (mainly the guy who bought nine at the same time), but who really would want to sneak out beer in a plastic cup?

People are going to drink outside the stadium regardless. Tailgating will always involve the consumption of alcohol, so one safe option would be to hopefully limit their “pregaming” outside the stadium and possibly funnel the drinking crowd to the alcohol vendors inside the stadium. Once there, their alcohol consumption would decrease, and in theory, that would prevent more alcohol related incidents.

Of course, like my Discrete Mathematics professor would always say, “In theory, there’s no difference in theory and practice. In practice, there is.” It sounds good when written out on paper, but how is the application actually going to work?

My view is this: the vast majority of alcohol consumers inside the stadium will be responsible. With any idea like this, there’s going to be risk. However, the risk is much lower than most actually think it is, if done correctly.

I’ll tell you one thing though; if I’ve got to leave my seat, walk a country mile, stand in line for 30 minutes, buy just one beer for $10, then walk another country mile back to my seat for just one drink, that would sober me up pretty quickly.