Alcohol sales debate stirs cocktail of economics and ethics
By Mandrallius Robinson
August 29, 2015
Anyone who has walked through a tailgate knows that smell. They also know it is not from an assortment of beer battered bratwurst. The thick charcoal smoke blowing off the grills cannot cover the pungent aroma of alcohol that flows freely around many major college football stadiums.
Several fans at Death Valley and Williams-Brice prefer a spirited pre-game ritual. But Clemson University and the University of South Carolina are not among the 24 NCAA Division I programs that permit the ritual inside their on-campus stadiums.
Clemson’s Atlantic Coast Conference counterparts Syracuse and Louisville have been selling alcohol since 1980 and 1998, respectively. Texas and Ohio State will begin serving beer and wine this season.
The Southeastern Conference, of which South Carolina is a member, prohibits alcohol sales in any venue. Clemson has briefly pondered the idea, but athletic director Dan Radakovich said there are no plans to turn Death Valley into an outdoor sports bar anytime soon.
Yet, the issue is not cut and…dry.
The potential revenue stream is tempting. As brew flows out of the tap, money flows into the program.
West Virginia began selling alcohol at football games in 2011. According to a report from ESPN, through the next two seasons, WVU generated $1.67 million from alcohol sales. That figure included $126,000 in a single game in November 2013, when Texas visited.
Aside from a flood of revenue, some proponents of the practice argue that access to alcohol in the stadium can curb binge drinking before kickoff or the need for fans to leave the stadium during halftime for a refill.