For those in the general public looking to add spirits to the in-game World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party experience, it appears that you’ll have to continue the time-honored tradition of sneaking the stuff in. Or drowning in it beforehand.
Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, the Florida Times-Union reported Friday that it’s “highly unlikely” alcohol will be sold to the general public during the annual Florida-Georgia rivalry game. As per SEC policy, alcohol is already permitted to be served to individuals in suites or premium seating areas of the Gator Bowl during the WLOCP.
This report comes on the heels of one from earlier this month which stated that the SEC is prepared to review the alcohol policy for any neutral site game or home game played off-campus.
The impetus for allowing in-game alcohol sales for all seating areas is, of course, money. Minnesota, which began selling alcohol at home games in 2012, realized a profit of nearly $200,000 last season off the sale of beer and wine throughout TCF Stadium. West Virginia made a profit of over $500,000 in the first year (2011) it sold alcohol at football and basketball games.
The concern, though, is an increase in alcohol-related incidents inside the stadium.
“We’re going to wait for the SEC to work through its review, and if they do allow it, we could consult with the athletic directors and administrations at both schools [Florida and Georgia] and have discussions about safety concerns,” a spokesperson Jacksonville mayor Alvin Brown said earlier this month.
The experiences at both Minnesota and West Virginia should somewhat allay those particular concerns, however, as the former saw alcohol-related incidents decrease by more than 20 percent after it started selling alcohol while the latter dropped 35 percent. As the theory goes, binge drinking prior to the game decreases as fans know there will be alcohol available once they get inside the stadium and results in fewer alcohol-related incidents.
The SEC’s alcohol policy will be on the agenda during spring meetings in the coming months.
“Up to now, we like our rule,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive told al.com. “I haven’t heard any concerted interest in changing our rule, but our people would like to talk about it. We’re institutions of higher education and alcohol on campuses has been an issue for a long while. I think this is an area where we want to walk slowly and carefully.”