Beer and wine will be sold in the public areas of Tiger Stadium during the upcoming LSU football season, the university announced Thursday.
The Southeastern Conference lifted its ban on alcohol sales May 31, freeing member schools to make their own choices on whether alcohol should be available at their athletic venues.
"This is all about enhancing the fan experience, responding to the feedback from our fans and doing it responsibly," LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. "It’s a big addition to our events and we believe it will be a positive one overall, but we are going about it with the appropriate mindset and thorough planning."
LSU plans to allow alcohol sales at other sports venues, including Alex Box Stadium and the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, senior associate athletic director Robert Munson said, but the focus at this point is on being ready at Tiger Stadium this fall. LSU opens against Georgia Southern in five weeks.
LSU announced it will sell a variety of domestic and imported beer, plus red and white wines. No more than two alcoholic beverages can be purchased at once, and each beverage will be dispensed into a cup, per SEC policy.
"You know, two beers and a hot dog at a football game? That's a healthy experience," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told The Advocate on July 18 during the conference's media days. "Twelve beers and a hot dog at a football game? Not so healthy. So we do have an expectation of both campus and individual responsibility now that this opportunity can be presented."
Sales of alcohol at Tiger Stadium will stop at the end of the third quarter, and concession stands nearest to the student section will not have alcohol sales. Stands that do sell alcohol will require an ID check with each transaction.
Prices for alcohol have not been set.
A designated driver program called "Safe Driver Tiger" is in the works, Munson said. People can register as a safe driver for their group.
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The SEC was the last of the five major college conferences to lift its ban on alcohol sales, though it had permitted the sale of alcohol to fans who sit in premium seating areas.
On June 13, Texas A&M was the first SEC program to approve the sale of alcohol at its stadium, Kyle Field.
"We asked our programs to be prepared to look at their policies and work through these issues and if they're going to deploy alcohol availability in the larger parts of the stadium to do so responsibly," Sankey said. "I expect between now and the start of the season, you'll see a few announcements. But it certainly won't be every one of our schools, and I'm not even convinced it will be the majority of the schools."
At least 22 programs in the Power Five leagues serve alcohol throughout the stadium; some programs, like Illinois, Rutgers, Oklahoma and Texas Tech, will sell alcohol for the first time this season.
LSU officials have long advocated for the expansion of alcohol sales, and alcohol policy became a regular talking point at the SEC's annual spring meetings with its member school's presidents and athletic directors.
Former LSU athletic director Joe Alleva had pushed for the expansion of alcohol sales in Tiger Stadium. During the 2018-2019 academic year, the university began to sell alcohol in premium sections of Tiger Stadium and Alex Box Stadium.
"My stance has been, and our president's stance has been, that we would love to offer alcoholic beverages to everyone, the whole public area of a stadium," Alleva said Aug. 15 on WNXX-FM, 104.5. "I really thing that's going to change in the future."
When Woodward replaced Alleva as athletic director in April, he said the two were aligned in their affirmative position on expanded alcohol sales versus the rest of the SEC.
"We have a different belief system down here in South Louisiana," Woodward said during his introductory news conference April 23. "We take things differently. So we have to look at them, and we have to do them the right way that makes sense for us, and that's how we're going to do it, and I promise you we're going to do it with the highest integrity."
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The alcohol sales at premium areas of Tiger Stadium and Alex Box Stadium — called "The Chute" in Tiger Stadium and "The Yard" in Alex Box Stadium — were essentially a pilot program for larger expansion.
The premium areas were open to anyone 21 or older with a game ticket, and the $20 admission per person included two beverages. Additional beverages were $6 each.
Whether those premium areas will still exist is not certain, Munson said.
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The Chute was located on the ground level of Tiger Stadium. The area opened 2½ hours before kickoff and closed at the beginning of the fourth quarter. It was decorated with hanging lights and had food vendors and projector screens that showed the game.
The Yard operated in tented areas at the left- and right-field corners of Alex Box Stadium. The areas opened two hours before first pitch and closed at the end of the seventh inning.
"I think this is new, and people want to be careful," Sankey said. "Which is exactly what we encourage them to do in deploying alcohol availability."