Ole Miss has jumped on board with the growing number of schools that have decided to sell alcohol at sporting events beginning this football season.
Beginning on October 19, when the Rebels are slated to play Texas A&M, the school announced it will sell alcohol at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The decision is one of the many ripple effects of legislation the Southeastern Conference passed this summer allowing its member institutions to decide whether to server alcohol at sporting events.
“The university has been deliberate in our approach to making this change,” said Ole Miss Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks. “We have assessed the relevant issues and focused on an implementation timetable that works best for our university. Maintaining the safety of our patrons and participants and maintaining an atmosphere suitable for families is of utmost importance. We appreciate the support and patience of our fans as we implement this change.”
Ole Miss’ policy for alcohol sales are as follows:
• All guests must be 21 years of age to purchase alcoholic beverages. A valid ID is required for purchase.
• A limit of two beers may be purchased at one time per legal ID.
• Sales will begin when the venue gates/doors open (two hours prior to kickoff for football).
• Per SEC requirements, sales will end when the game clock has expired at the conclusion of the third quarter.
• A security officer or Centerplate staff member will begin to close the line with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, and only the guests that were already standing in line will be able to purchase beer.
In addition to dedicated kiosks added to the concourse, a number of existing concessions locations will offer beer beer as well. Beer will be sold before football games as well at the Coca-Cola Rebel Fan Fest on the plaza between Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and The Pavilion at Ole Miss. The Fan Fest area will be cordoned off from the rest of the plaza and will open three hours prior to kickoff and close at kickoff. The school also said it will sell alcohol at other sporting events including basketball and baseball games this season. Further details regarding policies at those sporting events were not immediately available.
“This is another opportunity to enhance what is already one of the premier gamedays in college football,” said interim athletics director Keith Carter. “I want to thank Chancellor Sparks and the rest of our university administration for their leadership and support during this process. We expect this decision to help reduce incidents associated with overconsumption on gamedays. The athletics department will work hand-in-hand with other campus officials and within the guidelines of the SEC to ensure a safe and responsible environment for all fans.”
Last call will be at the end of the third quarter in football, the under 12 media timeout of the second half in basketball and at the end of the top of the seventh inning in baseball.
The University listed four primary reasons for electing to sell alcohol at sporting events:
-The need to promote responsible behavior and consumption inside athletics venues,
-The need to assess and fulfill incremental staffing needs,
-The desire to allow time to consider any implications for the campus community and internal policies and processes.
-The ability to learn from other schools’ experience with in-venue sales during the upcoming football season.
In the weeks leading up to the announcement, it was unclear whether Ole Miss would opt to pursue selling alcohol during the 2019-20 school year.