The University of Arkansas has approved the sale of beer and wine to the general public at football games this fall at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, according to a release issued Thursday (Aug. 1) by the university’s athletics department.
The decision to expand alcohol sales to other on-campus athletics venues in Fayetteville is still under review, according to the release. War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock also anticipates employing an expanded alcohol sales program for Razorback football games played there, according to the release.
The Razorbacks will play six football games in Fayetteville in 2019 and one in Little Rock. Arkansas’ first home football game is Aug. 31 at 3 p.m. at Razorback Stadium against Portland State. The Hogs end the regular season at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Nov. 29 against Missouri.
“By expanding our established alcoholic beverages program to include the sale of beer and wine in public areas of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, we are building on an already successful model while furthering the fan experience in a responsible way,” UA Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “Working in coordination with campus officials and within established guidelines adopted by the [Southeastern Conference], we will now be able to offer this gameday amenity as an option to fans while working to further educate University of Arkansas students and the general public about safe and responsible consumption.”
In May, the Southeastern Conference announced a revision of a policy that had previously restricted the sale of alcohol in public areas of athletics venues. Under the revised policy, each institution within the conference now has the autonomy to determine the permissibility of selling alcoholic beverages in its athletics venues, subject to certain conference-wide alcohol management expectations.
Opinions on the new alcohol policy have been mixed. In the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s recent poll conducted June 26-28 by Talk Business & Politics Research, Hendrix College and Impact Management Group, 357 cellphone and landline users were asked about the prospect of beer and wine sales at Razorback games. About 42.5% said they supported alcohol sales at Razorback games, while 48% opposed. Just 9.5% did not have an opinion.
Arkansas is the third SEC program to approve beer and wine sales for the 2019 football season. Texas A&M and LSU have also confirmed that alcohol will be sold in general seating areas this year.
Alcoholic beverages at Razorback football games have been available since 2014 in suites and private club areas. Fans 21 years or older can now purchase beer and wine within designated public areas in and around the stadium.
Yurachek said the UA will implement a number of corresponding initiatives aimed at preventing underage consumption and promoting responsible choices, including a ‘We ID Program,’ and a designated driver and rideshare program.
“In many cases at other Power 5 conference institutions, alcohol-related incidents at events have decreased following the introduction of a formal alcohol sales and educational program,” Yurachek said. “As with other gameday options, we realize individuals will ultimately make their own choices on whether to utilize these expanded opportunities. Our focus will be continuing to work with campus officials, UAPD, the SEC and others to ensure that fans of all ages can enjoy their gameday experience.”
Alcoholic beverages will be sold and dispensed only at designated stationary locations and not by vendors in seating areas. Identification checks will be required of every person at the point of each sale and alcohol will be dispensed in cups. A limit of two servings per person will be allowed in each transaction. Sales of alcohol will be halted at the end of the third quarter of the game.
Alcohol will not be allowed in the UA student seating section, according to the release. Beer and wine sale kiosks will also not be located in the immediate proximity of the student section. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from alcohol sales will be designated for use by the UA’d division of student affairs for alcohol-related education and programming for university students.
More information about the expansion of beer and wine sales is available here.