College athletics changed forever last Wednesday.
With the stroke of the governor’s pen at 1:34 PM on the 26th day of June in the year 2019 AD, public universities in North Carolina may now allow alcohol sales at stadiums, athletic facilities, and arenas located on school property.
The bill was introduced by Republican majority leadership in the House, received favorable votes from both parties in the House and Senate, and was signed into law by a Democratic governor.
Who says bipartisanship is dead?
The law changes state statute in G.S. 18B-1006(a)(9). Below is an excerpt of the new law:
(a) School and College Campuses. – No permit for the sale of alcoholic beverages shall be issued to a business on the campus or property of a public school, college, or university. This subsection shall not apply to the following:
(9) A stadium, athletic facility, or arena on the campus or property of a public college or university, if the Board of Trustees of the public college or university has voted to allow the issuance of permits for use at that stadium, athletic facility, or arena.
The change in the law will allow 15 of the 17 UNC system schools to put this issue in front of their respective Board of Trustees.
These institutions include Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, UNC Asheville, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, UNC Wilmington, Western Carolina University, and Winston-Salem State University.
Will the North Carolina Tar Heels make the splash next fall?
In a statement to the News and Observer, this is what Carolina Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham had to say:
Since the bill was introduced, we have been having conversations and exploring opportunities related to selling alcohol in our stadiums. Our Trustees support this effort, and now that the bill has been signed, our game management staff and concession partner will soon make a presentation to me about the different scenarios involved in such sales, and I will consult with University leadership about the best path forward.
The bill was introduced in March and had favorable reports out of three House committees before it passed a House vote to be sent to the Senate on April 17. Based on Cunningham’s statement, this has been on UNC’s radar since at least April.
If the Board of Trustees do support this new endeavour, how will it be implemented? In some ways, Carolina, along with NC State, may be ahead of the other institutions because alcohol is currently served in the Blue Zone and other high-rent districts in Kenan and Carter-Finley. Additionally, since PNC Arena is also the home of the Carolina Hurricanes, the staff and facilities at the arena are well-versed in alcohol sales.
However, serving limited numbers of guests in already contained areas in the stadiums is much different than alcohol sales to the general public.
Whether it is a wristband or ID check each time, ingenious college students will find a way to drink underage. It is a tale as old as time. The aim should be to reduce the occurrence of such acts and to properly and proportionally deal with violations.
Additionally, how will stadium staff make certain fans are not overserved? The biggest motivator is to ensure the safety of all fans during, after, and on the way home from the game.
These issues are not new. Underage drinking and overconsumption at college events have been occurring since at least the first forward pass in football during the Carolina-Georgia game in 1895.
The difference now is that there is a new target for these problems, even though a beer line inside Kenan is not the root issue.
With this law change, the goal now should be a cultural shift. Ice cold refreshment will be waiting inside the gates, so there should not be a need to get a load on in the parking lot and sneak airplane bottles into your boots.
This is a step forward, especially for a state that has a growing and delicious craft beer industry. But it will be up to the fans to make the change pay off.
Alright folks, let’s see your vote:
Should UNC allow alcohol sales at on-campus sporting events?
This poll is closed