Alcohol and the U: School spirits

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

No booze allowed.

In accordance to state policy, U sports facilities, which are state-sponsored venues, cannot sell or allow alcoholic beverages at games and school events. During personal tailgating events, however, some U officials said if alcohol use isn’t a problem, they won’t intervene.

“Is there alcohol up there? I would guess so. But is there a problem? No,” said Steve Pyne, director of event operations for the athletics department. “We’re not going out and looking for it.”

Pyne said public safety officers patrol parking lots where people are tailgating but do not interfere if no problem is reported.

Alcohol is prohibited in any school-sponsored tailgating, such as with the MUSS fan organization, but U rules allow it in private events. Private parties can also have alcohol at venues such as in the Rice-Eccles Tower reception rooms.

For example, Utah Sports Properties, which does marketing for the U athletics department, serves alcohol at their tailgating before football games. They usually set up their site next to the MUSS tailgate site. Their set-up is a private, ticketed event for corporate sponsors that uses a bartender approved by the U.

Brittany Keene, director of client services for Utah Sports Properties, said they haven’t had any problems with students trying to get alcohol during their tailgating.

Although peer institutions such as the University of New Mexico, University of Wyoming and University of Wisconsin in Madison do not sell alcohol in their football stadiums, New Mexico allows alcohol in the parking lots, and Wisconsin sells it in private boxes and clubs.

Cory Neeley, beverage manager at University of Wisconsin, said the stadium makes between $30,000 and $40,000 in alcohol sales in a typical game weekend.

Qualcomm Stadium, where the San Diego State University Aztecs play, sells alcohol during college games because it is a city-sponsored stadium shared with the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League. Beer is sold until the end of the third quarter. There are some differences in policy for college games and NFL games, such as changes in smoking sections and admissions charges.

However, San Diego State University does not allow alcohol at sporting events located on campus. This was permitted two years ago, but changed to comply with California state law, said SDSU marketing spokesman Steve Schnall.

Colorado State University sells beer with 3.2 percent alcohol content in its football stadium until halftime. Fans are able to purchase one beer at a time and must obtain a wristband from a stand, where they must show a valid identification and prove that they are sober. Alcohol is not sold at any other athletic or school events.

“It’s something we’ve been doing for 30 years,” said Doug Max, associate athletic director at Colorado State. “There’s no rhyme or reason to (the rules).”

Tailgating policies for Colorado State are similar to policies in the stadium — visitors must wear a wrist band and can drink beer or wine with 3.2 percent alcohol. Police officers patrol the parking lots during tailgating.

“I think what we’re doing is working pretty good,” Max said. “The university decided it’s OK, and we’ve been doing it a long time.”

Pyne said the U started cracking down on alcohol use in stadium two years ago, by bringing in more security and ejecting those caught with alcohol.

“It used to be that we slapped people’s hands two or three times and said ‘Don’t bring it in,’ (but) since two years ago, we’ve put in a hard line,” Pyne said.

Now, if any fans within the stadium have alcohol or are intoxicated, they are ejected for the duration of the game.

John Fackler, adviser to the MUSS, said fans are encouraged to tell security officers if people are intoxicated.

“More and more schools are turning away from alcohol in stadiums,” Fackler said. “No one enjoys drunk fans.”

Pyne said the ejection policy is in keeping with stadium efforts to enforce sportsmanship and create a fan-friendly environment.

“The (National College Athletic Association) would rather not sponsor alcohol at games,” Pyne said. “We’re here for the student athlete experience.”

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Tyler Cobb

Alcohol is prohibited inside of Rice Eccles Stadium so many Ute fans take advantage of the relaxed rules in parking lots around the stadium and bring their own drinks with them.