New stadium alcohol policy received positive feedback from students and attendees

MU’s new policy for selling alcohol at football games saw low incident reports and positive feedback from fans.

In August, it was announced that alcohol, specifically beer and wine, would be sold at Memorial Stadium throughout the fall season during football games.

As per Southeastern Conference policy, alcohol is only sold up until the end of the third quarter and attendees may only purchase up to two drinks per transaction. Furthermore, there is an alcohol-free seating area for fans who don’t want to be near alcohol for personal reasons.

This decision has been in the works since fall 2018, when the SEC assembled a working group to discuss the possibility of allowing alcohol sales at athletic events within conference schools.

However, the components of each college’s policies had to be accounted for as well. Over the course of a year, the MU Athletics Department worked in conjunction with other departments to create campus-specific policies in the event that alcohol sales were allowed by the SEC. Eventually, this was voted for in May 2019 at an annual meeting.

Deputy Athletic Director Nick Joos played a role in making sure MU’s policy aligned with the SEC’s own standards. Throughout this process, the policy was presented to various committees and administrators for review.

“A wide range of people came back with a couple of minor tweaks that we then made,” Joos said. “We agreed and announced to sell in early August.”

Joos said that MU had a good framework to draw from in developing its own policy since alcohol has been sold at concerts on campus previously without major incidents. The current policy mirrors that.

During the process, data collected from other schools was provided by the SEC and then examined by members of the MU Athletics Department. This data showed that allowing alcohol sales at sports games correlated with a decreased amount of incident reports.

“The biggest thing is that we want to have a safe and enjoyable environment for all of our fans,” Joos said. “That’s why we have things in our policy like a section that is alcohol-free where we won’t sell alcohol”

According to the Missourian, alcohol-related incidents have decreased since the policy was put in place.

“I think that’s because we have a good policy in place and our people are respectful of one another,” Joos said. “Our fans are very respectful and understand the rules and do a great job with it.”

Joos said the policy has received positive feedback from students.

Erin Kornfeld, a sophomore business major, said she thinks that the policy will benefit Columbia in more ways than just fostering a safe and positive culture.

“I think the new policy will bring more revenue to the community because older demographics will be more likely to come to games and visit Columbia,” Kornfeld said.

Furthermore, she said that when she attended the first home game where alcohol was sold, the environment was overall a positive and friendly one.

According to Faculty Athletics Representative Pamela Bruzina, one hypothesis posits that the success could be attributed to a decrease in binge drinking prior to games.

“They know they can purchase alcohol at the game, so they don’t feel the need to over consume before they enter the game,” Bruzina said. “If they’re not as intoxicated at the stadium, there will be fewer incidents.”

Bruzina was involved in reviewing the initial draft of MU’s policy, as well as discussing and reviewing it with various committees. She said that the feedback she and her colleagues gave consisted only of minor tweaks to the original draft, rather than any major changes.

Bruzina emphasized that the policy is flexible, and can be modified if needed as time goes on.

“We’re going to track how the policy is working and make changes as needed to keep the experience positive for everybody,” she said. “We’re really trying to improve the game experience from several different angles.”

Edited by Ben Scott | bscott@themaneater.com

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