On Tuesday, the Tuscaloosa City Council approved a concession application to sell alcohol inside the University of Alabama (UA) football games.
In 2019, the SEC lifted the ban on selling alcohol in football stadiums. This move left it up to the individual schools to decide whether or not they would do so. Multiple SEC schools, including LSU and Texas A&M, have gone forward with alcohol sales at football games.
UA's Bryant-Denny Stadium has a seating capacity of 100,077 and is the fourth largest stadium in the Southeastern Conference. It is the eighth largest stadium in the United States and the tenth largest stadium in the world.
Levy Premium Foodservice, based in Chicago, oversees concessions at all the UA's athletic venues, including Bryant-Denny. Levy applied for a license to sell drinks in Coleman Coliseum, where UA's men's and women's basketball teams play. The application was approved during a city council meeting on February 1. Levy expressed interest in also bringing alcohol sales to Bryant-Denny.
Later in February, the council instituted fees on tickets for events where alcohol is sold. The fee was $1 on any ticket sold for events between 1,000 to 20,000 people, $2 for events between 20,000 and 50,000 people, and $3 for any event with more than 50,000 people.
UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne announced that the university would not move forward with plans to sell alcohol due to the service fee.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox told Tide 100.9 that the fee was instituted in response to Levy's interest in selling alcohol in the stadium. Maddox said he was worried about the cost it would impose on the Tuscaloosa Police Department and Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue.
In June, the university announced that it had reached a compromise with the city of Tuscaloosa. The university agreed to provide specialty service funding to cover the increased costs for the city and introduced a new scholarship program for Tuscaloosa police officers and firefighters. In response, the city agreed to drop the service fee.
Councilor John Faile was the only person to vote against approving the application on Tuesday. Faile is the representative for District 6. He said his constituents urged him to vote against approving the application; in fact, not one of them told him to vote for it.
"It's hard enough when you go out there now," Faile said. "Obviously, we all know there's a great deal of alcohol there. My constituents felt that there's enough alcohol, that we don't need to add to it … Let's be honest, [when] you've got 100,000 people, and 25,000 of them have too much to drink, there are problems. There's also been issues with alcohol and football games."
Faile said he was a police officer in Tuscaloosa in the 70s, 80s and 90s and had to deal with issues surrounding alcohol on gamedays.
If the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board approves the application, vendors will sell alcohol on the concourses outside of the student section. Hawkers will move around the back of concession stand lines but will not be in the stands.
Every person purchasing alcohol will be carded, regardless of age. Service employees will have to complete a "safe server" class.
Auburn University associate athletic director Kirk Sampson said that Auburn will not sell alcohol at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the 2022 football season, but the university is continuing to "assess the national landscape as it relates to alcohol sales."
"Our main priority remains to provide the Auburn Family with the best gameday experience in the nation," Sampson said.
Although 1819 News also contacted Levy to ask for further details about alcohol sales in Bryant-Denny, there was no response.
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