SEC revises alcohol policy, clearing way for Florida Gators to make changes

By Adam Silverstein
May 31, 2019
SEC revises alcohol policy, clearing way for Florida Gators to make changes

Image Credit: @GatorsFB/Twitter

Next time you attend a Florida Gators sporting event, there is a good chance you will be able to do so with a cold, alcoholic beverage in your hand. The Southeastern Conference on Friday formally revised the league’s policy that prevented alcohol from being sold at athletic events, instead putting the power in the hands of each of the SEC’s 14 schools to determine whether to serve such beverages at their facilities.

The change in policy will be effective Aug. 1, 2019, ahead of the upcoming football season.

“Our policy governing alcohol sales has been a source of considerable discussion and respectful debate among our member universities in recent years,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a release. “… We remain the only conference to set forth league-wide standards for the responsible management of the sale of alcoholic beverages.”

What Sankey is referring to is league policy that will limit the sale of alcoholic beverages to beer and wine “in public seating areas.” No change will be made regarding suites and club seats, which even now are permitted to sell alcohol, including liquor and mixed drinks.

Furthermore, alcohol will not be sold within seating areas by roaming vendors, there will be established limits for individual sales and designated stop times must be enforced. Those regulations include the end of the third quarter for football and women’s basketball games, the second-half 12-minute timeout for men’s basketball, the end of the top of the seventh inning for baseball, the end of the top of the fifth inning for softball and no later than 75 percent of the way through other sporting events.

Florida has yet to comment publicly on how it will address this rule revision, though a source told that the Gators were prepared for such a change and will discuss internally how to move forward.

Statistics gathered by college sports programs across the country show that allowing in-venue sales actually cuts alcohol-related incidents nearly in half and significantly reduces in-game arrests.

Florida saw similar results at a recent Garth Brooks concert held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. UF allowed alcohol sales at that event yet saw half as many incidents compared to a typical Gators football game. There were also no arrests made the night of the concert.

Should Florida decide to sell alcohol at its venues, it is unlikely that it would be a unilateral decision by the University Athletic Association. Still, the Gators must consider all parties that could be affected by such a change, and it is unknown whether they will put alcohol sales into motion ahead of the 2019-20 athletic season.

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